Girl with rare facial condition is now a model with an important message to share
In this image-obsessed society in which we live in, it can be easy to feel like you are not attractive enough or don't match up to the beauty standards of the western world. While the body-positivity and self-love movements are doing all that they can to make society a more accepting and welcoming place (particularly for women), there is still a major issue in society when it comes to accepting all body types.
That said, there are some people who are trying to lead the fight against the archaic and out-dated beauty standards that we see plastered across our screens on the day-to-day. One of these people is Ilka Brühl; a 26-year-old woman from Germany who is trying to change the ways in which the world treats those who are different. Brühl has taken it upon herself to spread a message of positivity and empowerment by sharing her own story, and it's seriously inspiring.
Since the day she was born, Ilka has faced extreme struggle:
"I was born with a facial cleft and my nose airways were not properly formed.
"In addition, I lacked on the right side of the tear duct, so that the permanent natural moistening of the eye has led to me right tears have always run out of the eye."
Ilka spent the first part of her life in hospital, with her undergoing over 10 operations. However, she says that the procedures have helped her overcome her negative body-image: "But what I've noticed over the years, it's not just the operations that have helped me look more confident in the mirror, but the inner attitude."
Such was Ilka's new found confidence, two years ago, she started posing in front of the camera for some of her friends. "There was so much positive feedback, that I got more and more courage to show myself as I am," she said. "Pure and unaffected."
Ilka says that after receiving the feedback, she realised that through her images, she could have a beneficial effect on the lives of others. "What began as self-therapy gradually changed in the intent to help others along the way, as more and more messages reached me in which others thanked me."
Ilka hopes that through sharing her story and her unique appearances, she'll motivate others to come out of their shells and embrace who they are. As she says, "there is only one way to be ugly: by having an ugly character. No one has to hide for their appearance!"
Finally, the model has a message to those people who are struggling with some form of confidence: "I wish everyone out there, whether with inner or outer stigma, that you find your way. All the best, Ilka."
Ilka's message is loud and clear: try to love the skin you're in. Learn to embrace what you look like and your inner-self will shine through.