By Charlotte Nisbet
A mum who was branded a ‘Dalmatian’ after being diagnosed with a rare skin condition has become a model after being scouted online.
Cheryl Shaw, 33, has spent her entire life being taunted for her skin condition – known as Congenital Melanocytic Nevus – which causes mole-like pigmentation across the body.
The mum-of-two has been subjected to cruel abuse from strangers who have branded her a ‘101 Dalmatian’ due to her skin tone.
But despite being left with no confidence due to the bullies, Cheryl set up an Instagram page and earlier this year and began showcasing her imperfections.
She has since been scouted by Models of Diversity – a charity which campaign for greater diversity in the modelling industry.
Cheryl couldn’t be more thrilled with her success so far and is now inspiring others to do the same.
The practice manager said: “I lacked confidence because of being bullied throughout my life for my skin tone.
“The condition has caused patches of my skin to appear darker which gives them a mole-like appearance.
“I would be called a ‘101 Dalmatian’ or that I look like a cookie or a leopard due to my darker spots.
“Growing up I felt so abnormal but I’d always wanted to be a model even though I knew it was unlikely.
“I used to call them beauty spots when I was younger but now I try and educate people by telling them that I have congenital melanocytic nevus.
“I also enjoy showing my son’s, Javante, 11, and Vito, three, that it’s fine to have imperfections.
“It has been a dream come true to be scouted by Models of Diversity who have put me in touch with huge brands, New Look and ASOS, who provided some amazing clothes for my photoshoot last week.
“I attended by first fashion shoot last Friday [April 19] and it was amazing, I had the time of my life.”
Cheryl now says she’s full of confidence after hating herself for years and now hopes to inspire others.
She added: “I really disliked what I saw in the mirror and I was so self-conscious.
“But since setting up my Instagram page I have gained a lot more confidence due to the vast amount of supportive comments.
“I couldn’t be more excited for the future now and modelling clothes loaned by New Look and ASOS was a dream come true.
“I hope others read my story and seek hope from it and realise you can achieve your dreams no matter what you’ve been through.”
Angel Sinclair, founder of Models of Diversity, said: “Models of Diversity campaigns for the fashion and media industry to challenge conventional perceptions of beauty and show a greater representation of all areas of society.
“That’s why we are so proud to support Cheryl, who has the skin condition Congenital Melanocytic Nevus in celebrating her diversity on her journey in to modelling.
“We are grateful to ASOS and New Look who dressed Cheryl for our shoot and giving her the opportunity to not only look and feel beautiful but also to educate the public on this rare condition.”