Every so often, you come across an inspiring story that reminds you of the power of beauty. Olivia Holm Poulsen, 18, faced major ridicule because of her birthmark in her hometown of West Jutland, Denmark. Her birthmark is visible on her jawline down to her neck. At school, classmates would tease her. However, one day it got really bad, and she decided not to hide her birthmark and celebrate it instead with a classic party favor: glitter. Instead of being ashamed of her birthmark and internalizing the mean remarks, she posted a photo on Instagram of it covered in a colorful shade of glitter. Her photo inspired thousands of people and ultimately went viral.
As Teen Vogue reported recently, in an honest interview with i-D, Poulsen shares the emotional ups and downs she's experienced because of her birthmark and how embracing this feature has contributed to her self-love.
"I was born with a large birthmark on my neck. So I struggled with my self-confidence growing up, but as I grew older I also grew to love my birthmark. I realized it’s part of what makes me unique," she told i-D. "As a kid, I never felt beautiful or confident in my body or self-image. I just wanted to look like the other children. My family and friends have always been great at telling me that I'm unique because of my birthmark and now prosthetic hip. They've helped me to embrace who I really am, so much so that I've become very confident in myself and I've learned to love standing out from the crowd."
Wondering how she created such a masterpiece from something that once brought her so much shame? "I just found an old eyeshadow palette with glitter eyeshadows and thought it would look cool," she told i-D. "It was my way of not letting them destroy my confidence."
Not to mention the teen is a natural at makeup, as she creatively used her love of makeup to become a powerful statement while precisely matching her birthmark art to her eye shadow or lipstick. However, previously, she used makeup as a way to hide her imperfections rather than to showcase her natural beauty. "I never used makeup as a form of expression when I was younger. I only saw it as a tool to become prettier and to hide my imperfections," she told i-D. "I felt like I only looked pretty if I was wearing makeup. Now, I use makeup as a tool to embrace and highlight my imperfections, especially my birthmark."
When Poulsen discovered a community of strong supporters on Instagram, she was blown away by her ability to empower others to speak up about their "imperfections."
Although she's taken major strides to self-love and self-acceptance, Poulsen admits that she still has her days where she wants to look "normal." But what does that even mean? She's redefining beauty for her own sake and understands that it should start from within. "I still don't understand beauty and I don't think I ever will," she told i-D. "But I try to challenge what people consider to be beautiful, and what they consider not to be—because at the end of the day, who are they to tell what is and what is not beauty?"
Whatever it is you may be struggling to love about yourself, we can all take a lesson or two from Poulsen. Find the beauty in it and show the world.