April 2019

My idea of confidence has changed so much in the last two and a half years.

I always believed I was confident in my skin. I didn’t stare into the mirror unhappy with the ‘me’ that looked back. I didn’t hide away from meeting new people; I accepted my birthmark was part of what makes me who I am. 

I was asked to take part in a television program which was to look at people with different facial disfigurements and their relationship with makeup. It was not an easy decision to make when deciding whether to take part. I worried about receiving negative comments on social media, would the programme be edited in a positive light? Would I embarrass myself or my family? And even what would they call the programme? Because I didn’t want to take part in anything that made me look like I wasn’t the happy, confident person I am. 

I agreed to take part because I hoped seeing people with facial disfigurements on the TV would help others to feel like they are not alone. Also, I have never been shown how to apply camouflage makeup and I wanted to have the choice of being able to cover my birthmark if I wanted to. It was such an amazing experience, with wonderful people, but I did not expect it to have the impact on me that it did. 

The makeover section of the programme was filmed in a busy beauty section of a London department store. I had to arrive on location very early and without makeup on. That morning I got in the hotel lift and pressed for the ground floor. The lift stopped to let someone else in, as the door opened a lady was about to get in. We made eye contact and I smiled, but she just quickly turned her back and did not acknowledge me in anyway. Now I’m pretty sure if I didn’t have a purple birthmark on my face, or had it covered with makeup I would have had a friendlier interaction, but I think the lady was shocked at my appearance and didn’t know what to say to me. 

The makeover began at around 7am so the beauty department was empty except for the filming crew, myself and the lovely lady doing my makeup. By the time my makeup was complete the doors of the department store had been opened and it was busy with customers rushing around. People were not really paying attention to what we were doing; they were too busy getting on with their own lives. My makeup had been done beautifully; there was not a trace of by birthmark left. How I felt took me completely by surprise. 

I was stood in the middle of a busy London department store, my makeup was immaculate, but I had never felt so self-conscious before. I was so uncomfortable, for the first time in a very long time I felt out of place and self-conscious about my appearance. The first opportunity I had I took the makeup off.

It was on this day that I realised that although I thought I was a confident person before; I still had room for growth. Before the makeover I was happy in my skin but I would always wear makeup when I was outside of my home. Mostly it was only a thin layer of makeup which didn’t conceal my Port Wine Stain, but it did make my purple coloured birthmark less obvious. I guess it was almost like a safety barrier against the world for me.

Feeling worried that people were staring at me was not how I expected to feel when I had the makeover. I was asked by one of the production team if I minded taking the makeup off for the next piece of filming and they offered to have the makeup reapplied for my journey home. I had never been so keen to take my makeup off. I think I took them by surprise when I said no thank you to having the makeup reapplied. As soon as I had taken the makeup off I felt a sense of relief and instantly like myself again.

Now, confidence for me means not feeling like I need to apply makeup every time I leave the house. I do still wear makeup for going to work or going out for the evening, but if I’m going to the supermarket or on the school run, I’m happy to go out without any makeup on.

Lisa Butler

Talk health