*34-year-old Ferrin Roy was born with a 4-inch birthmark on her right cheek, and in her new book, “The Mark She Kept,” she shares how she has learned to love her unique feature, despite receiving negative attention for it throughout her life.
“When the stares and the comments were in an overload, I thought about removing my birthmark,” she tells PEOPLE. “I met with a plastic surgeon. Then it really sunk in — if I removed it, it would be to satisfy the opinion of others. This is something I had since I was a child, so I grew with it. I had to tell myself, ‘This is you, and you have already accepted who you are.’ ”
As PEOPLE notes, Roy credits her mom for instilling self-confidence.
“My mom incorporated it when she was teaching me: ‘These are your eyes, this is your nose, this is your birthmark…’ so as a child I felt like this was a part of me,” says the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Roy. “If, say, my mom would have combed my hair a particular way to camouflage my birthmark, that would have made a complete difference.”
Adding, “She taught me how people should treat me and how to defend myself,” says Roy, adding that her mom encouraged her to take dance classes and compete in local pageants. “I think that has a lot to do with how I feel about myself.”
Roy recalls the first time she felt bad about her birthmark was in fourth grade while singing in a youth church choir.
“This lady stood up [in front of everyone and] said, ‘You know I’ve been making a gesture to this young lady to remove what is on her face’… It was a very embarrassing moment for me.”
When attacked with negative comments, Roy says she would have “this conversation booster” with herself. “I would find a mirror and talk to myself and say, ‘Oh whatever — you’re still pretty,’ she says. “I would remind myself, this is what you see, you can’t worry about what they are seeing.”
Roy, a mental health counselor, is hoping to instill that same level confidence in her daughters, Hailyn, 12, and Aavyn, 9. And she’s hoping her book will inspire other women to embrace their uniqueness.
“I teach them that everyone is different and no one is made the same,” she says. “My youngest rubs my birthmark and says it’s fun and it’s soft.”
She also credits her husband of over a year for his acceptance. “I asked him what he thought about my birthmark and he said, “If I thought anything negative about it, I wouldn’t have asked you on a date,” she says with a laugh. “He is very supportive.”
She added: “I asked him, if our children have birthmarks, how would you feel? He said, ‘I would be OK with this it, they have you [as a role model] so I think they would be OK.’ If someone loves you they are going to accept you for who you are, and I have never covered it, ever. He’s never asked me to.”