Growing up under the weight of people's stares
Li-Yan was born with a visible red vascular birthmark covering the skin below her nose to her neck, subjecting her to constant stares and ridicule from an early age. Lacking confidence and fearing social interactions, she struggled to find acceptance and experienced a sense of isolation.
Seeking a colorful life for herself
Despite these difficulties, Li-Yan always aspired to lead a vibrant life like everyone else. She actively explored the world, made friends, and pursued higher education. However, she encountered discomfort and distance from new acquaintances when they noticed her birthmark. Even online friends, who initially clicked well with her, drifted away or severed ties after seeing her photos. These experiences fueled self-doubt, eroded her trust in people, and led to periods of depression and self-harm, leaving Li-Yan feeling shattered.
Building her courage through learning and training
With the assistance of a psychologist, Li-Yan gradually healed her wounded heart and rebuilt her self-confidence. She participated in an empowerment project for youths with visible difference of Sunshine Foundation and eventually became one of the over 6,000 globally certified coffee quality assessors. Li-Yan also acquired skills in makeup, drawing, and video production to cultivate her online community. Through continuous practice in social interactions, people who knew her remarked on her growing self-assurance. However, Li-Yan acknowledges that this newfound confidence is a conscious effort she has worked hard to developed.
Conquering fear through international experiences
After obtaining her coffee quality assessor certification, Li-Yan applied for a working holiday in Australia. She shares, "That year spent abroad has given me tremendous courage. I am no longer afraid of encountering new people or experiences, especially when facing crowds!" Feeling empowered, she immersed herself in the food and beverage industry, willingly taking on both back-of-house and front-of-house responsibilities. She even challenged herself by establishing a new branch, continuously taking on new challenges to unlock her potential.
Promoting Face Equality
While Li-Yan's resilience strengthened through these challenges, she still regularly faces judgment from the outside world due to her birthmark. The lingering trauma of discrimination subtly pains her whenever she becomes the subject of stares. However, Li-Yan refuses to allow society's gaze to dictate her life. She believes that her birthmark does not define who she is and endeavors to raise awareness about vascular birthmarks and promote Face Equality. Thus, she started a video channel to help others understand vascular birthmarks and advocate for Face Equality. With over 4,700 followers, Li-Yan uses live broadcasts and videos to spread the idea that wanting to be beautiful is natural, but there’s no fixed definition of what beauty is.
Becoming a ray of sunshine and embracing individuality, Li-Yan states, "I used to wear makeup to conceal my birthmark, but now I do it for my own happiness." She aims to become a ray of sunshine, empowering individuals to embrace their unique beauty and live life authentically.
Li-Yan's story serves as an inspiration for everyone facing adversity. Her journey from self-doubt and fear to empowerment and advocacy showcases the importance of embracing oneself and promoting inclusivity. Let us celebrate Li-Yan's courage and support her mission to create a friendlier world where everyone can confidently express their true selves.