By Josh Saunders
A mum has traced her daughter’s birthmark onto her favourite doll to make her feel proud of the red mark that covers half her face.
Jesica Bird, 31, from Manhattan, New York stained five-year-old Nevaeh’s doll with a matching mark to encourage her to love her discoloured skin.
Nevaeh was born with a port-wine stain (PWS), caused by abnormally widened blood vessels, which stretches across the left-hand side of her face.
After receiving a doll for Christmas, the little girl told her mum that she wished it had a matching birthmark like her.
Eager to encourage her daughter to be proud of her port-wine stain, the mum-of-two permanently marked the doll’s skin last month.
Now Nevaeh and her doll are inseparable and the little girl proudly shows off their birthmarks to all her friends.
Jesica said: “My daughter really wanted a doll that looked like her, when she opened it at Christmas it had brown hair and brown eyes just like her, but it wasn’t completely right.
“She told me that she wished her doll had a birthmark like her and when I told her I could make it permanent like hers she was so excited.
“I took out a dark red lipstick and drew onto the doll’s face, knowing it would stain.
“I traced out her birthmark from there, along the eyelid to the nose and then rubbed it in, after that I stained the colour using a clear coat of nail polish on it.
“I did it in 20 minutes, it was so easy to do and I never would have thought something so little would be so huge for her
“Now, she seems even happier with her doll now and is proud, she wants to show it off to others.
“She always loved to play with her doll before but now it seems like it’s more special to her now.
“I believe she wanted her doll to match her, she’s proud of her birthmark and was happy enough to have it on her doll too.”
Nevaeh was born with the port wine stain, a birthmark that affects three in every 1,000 births.
Her mum Jesica said it was identifiable immediately and that now it ranges in colour from a purple to a light pink.
Jesica said: “Her birthmark is on the left-hand side, it covers half of her nose, partially her eye lid and her upper cheek.
“Over time her port wine stain hasn’t changed shape or darkened, it’s just grown with the shape of her face.
“Dependent on her temperature, it can be between light and dark red, when she’s cold it goes very purple and if it’s really hot it’s almost vanished.
“When she was really small, I could tell when she was cold because of the colour of her birthmark, even from a distance, I could use it to tell if she had a fever too, she’s like a thermostat.”
Parents Jesica and Joseph, 29, have encouraged her to embrace her birthmark from an early age, proudly answering questions about her port wine stain from the public.
However, they have encountered opposition when some members of the public confused their daughter’s birthmark for a sign of physical abuse.
Jesica said: “When she was a toddler, we had a few people following us round a store threatening to call the cops because they thought I was beating my child.
“In those situations, you don’t know what to do, you tell people over and over that it’s a birthmark but are so ignorant they won’t listen.
“Now she is a little older, when people ask about her birthmark she smiles at them, so it’s changed how I react a lot more.”
Nevaeh’s parents decided against laser treatment that can be used to reduce the appearance of a birthmark choosing to leave the decision to their daughter.
Jesica said: “We saw a doctor when she was very young and were a little upset by how traumatising the kids being strapped down for treatment looked.
“We decided we would let her choose, if at a certain point in her life she wants to do it, then it’s her choice or if she wants to cover it with make-up she can do that too.”
Until then they are keen to instil their daughter with the message that she has no reason to hide her birthmark.
Jesica added: “She’s never had any bullying or anything like that, there’s never been a time she was upset by her birthmark because we’ve always encouraged her to embrace it.
“She’s never felt the need to be ashamed and we never want her to feel embarrassed.
“Thankfully, she’s so proud of her port wine stain and we are too, we never want her to hide it.”
The Vascular Birthmark Foundation (VBF) who offer advice and support to people with birthmarks, including Port Wine Stains, have launched the campaign ‘VBF Ask/Accept’ to encourage to help reduce the stigma of birthmarks by educating the public.
Dr. Rozell-Shannon added: “We want people living with a port wine stain to be able to educate others that this is a progressive vascular anomaly that is considered a birth defect and like any other difference.
“It should be accepted and no one should be judged because of it. No one asks to be born with a birth defect.
“That’s why VBF is committed to our annual campaign to raise awareness and remove the stigma.”