As a child, photographer and videographer Heywood Taylor was often asked what was wrong with his face, while other children mistook his birthmark for a bruise or a burn
He hopes that sharing his story will help normalise facial differences and make them less taboo.
He said: “I remember people staring and often asking me if I was ok. A couple of times I was told it was ugly and that I should get it removed, but at the time I didn’t pay it much notice.
“I don’t remember too much anguish regarding having my birthmark though.
“It wasn’t until my late teens and early twenties that I really began to struggle with having a birthmark.
“I remember getting very paranoid when in public and uncomfortable, not because people would or had ever said anything, but simply because of people staring.
“I felt awkward as a teenager as many people do, so the added stares of the birthmark enhanced this awkward anxiety.
“By my twenties, I developed agoraphobia – particularly of public busy places. I would never be in public alone and if for example I had to travel, I would often feel very vulnerable within myself.
“I could not stand people looking at me and then looking away awkwardly. It made me feel horrendous and I suffered from cold sweats.”
He said he struggled with years of anxiety, alcohol, and ADHD before losing his mum at 25, which made him ‘tip over the edge.’
He added: “I found myself overweight and miserable, contemplating the end so I joined a gym and it saved me at that time.
“I would gradually regain my self-confidence and after a few years, I had learned to believe in myself again, and with a good boost of ego, I grew in confidence.
“It was at this point that I started really getting tattooed.
“I had had a few tattoos before, but once I was getting in better shape and my confidence grew, I actually felt more comfortable to start getting tattooed more.
“As the skin got gradually covered in permanent ink, I found my confidence grew even further.”
He said that with his face covered in tattoos he has ‘never felt more comfortable’ with how he looks.
He added: “To those who are self-conscious about their birthmark, it can really suck and the mental health implications are real.
“The only thing that has changed for me with my relationship with my birthmark is that I am no longer anxious about it and that’s because I worked on myself.
“I love the little red thing, and I’m grateful for it because it has shaped me in far more positive ways than negative.
“As people, we are all much much more than just a face – just some of our faces are a little less boring than the norm.”