Beth Stebner
March 26, 2015 11:52 am

Cassandra Naud is our new body image hero, after broadcasting a powerful message to the Internet this week: “Be proud of your uniqueness.”

Naud, who was profiled by the Daily Mail this week, is an awesome professional dancer, who just happened to be born with a birthmark on the right side of her face.

Her parents had a decision to make when Naud was still very little – let it be, or subject her to plastic surgery and risk heavy scarring on her face.

Now, at 22, Naud is speaking out about the decision to embrace her natural beauty and spreading the word that you don’t have to conform to society’s standards of what’s “normal” to be happy.

“Having a birthmark distinguishes me — and I don’t feel that it has ever held me back,” she told the Express. “I know some people might feel sorry for me, but I’m confident in how I look.” As she should be—she’s gorgeous.

Still, this badass Canadian-born performer, who recently appeared in a spot with Maroon 5 for ESPN and on Nickelodeon, has faced her share of discrimination.

“A lot of roles require the performers to have a certain appearance,” she told the Mail. “I’m never going to be hired by Disney, for example, because they want the ‘perfect’ look but I’m OK with that.”

She also revealed that one agent suggested she Photoshop her birthmark out of her headshots, and after considering it for a second, she refused. Ultimately, her decision has led her not only to stand out from the competition, but, more importantly, to embrace who she is without worrying about what other people really think. And that’s some powerful stuff. 

Of course, she didn’t always have the confidence she possesses now.

Growing up, Naud says she was taunted by classmates and subjected to years of bullying. When she was 13, she begged her mom to book an appointment with a plastic surgeon. Her mother agreed, but Naud decided against the operation, which would likely leave her with significant scarring and possible eye damage.

The dancer’s outlook sends a powerful message of self-acceptance: you don’t have to conform to standard expectations of beauty, and you are way more than your appearance.

Now she wants to spread the word to other girls and young women to embrace their own individuality.

(Images via Facebook)

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