A woman cruelly nicknamed a ‘monkey’ by bullies has learnt to embrace a huge birthmark that almost covers her entire body.
Beatriz Pugliese, 22, from São Paulo, Brazil, was born with a nevus birthmark covering more than 80 percent of her skin.
The rare skin condition, known as a giant congenital melanocytic nevus, affects just one in 500,000 people and left the laboratory assistant the target of nasty remarks.
Yet, despite her skin condition, Ms Pugliese has found love with her boyfriend of three years and has decided against further surgery to improve her appearance.
Ms Pugliese said: ‘I would always tell others that we have to learn to be happy with what we have, in every sense of life but specifically in our differences. We have to see what we are inside.’
Despite her cruel nickname, Ms Pugliese even wants to work with monkeys to fulfill her love of nature.
A woman nicknamed a ‘monkey’ has learnt to embrace a birthmark that covers her entire body
Beatriz Pugliesewas born with a nevus birthmark covering more than 80 percent of her skin
After having more than 30 operations, she has decided against having further procedures
Despite her skin condition, she has found love with her boyfriend of three years (pictured)
WHAT IS A GIANT CONGENITAL MELANOCYTIC NEVUS?
A giant congenital melanocytic nevus is a birthmark that covers more than two per cent, or 20cm, of a sufferer’s body and requires more than one incision to remove.
The head, legs and arms are normally affected.
Treatment can involve birthmark removal, however, scarring is likely.
Laser therapy can reduce skin pigmentation, however, in some cases the colour returns.
Source: Nevus Outreach
‘I hope to inspire other people to embrace who they are’
After her last surgery in 2008, Ms Pugliese has decided against further procedures and instead embraces her looks.
She said: ‘I would always tell others that we have to learn to be happy with what we have, in every sense of life but specifically in our differences.
‘We have to see what we are inside, it sounds cliché but it’s the truth.
‘I hope to inspire other people to embrace who they are, and to be confident in their own skin.’
Despite being teased for looking like a monkey as a child, Ms Pugliese now wants to work with the primates, along with other animals.
She said: ‘Nature fascinates me, all its details are so incredible that I could spend hours in a forest just enjoying it all.
‘I love all animals and as long as I’m somehow attached to nature, I know I’ll be happy.’
Despite her nickname, Ms Pugliese wishes to work with primates and other animals
She wants ‘to inspire other people to embrace who they are and be confident in their own skin’
‘My birthmarks have never been a problem for him’
Ms Pugliese has also found love with her cook boyfriend of three years, Fellipe Koroboff, 24.
The couple met when they were both watching the same World Cup match when Brazil hosted the tournament in 2014.
Ms Pugliese said: ‘My birthmarks have never been a problem for him, he loves them and helps me to feel confident.
‘He gives me all the support I could need.
‘My family always made sure that I didn’t feel any different from other children.
‘I have always had the freedom to wear any clothes that I want and they never encouraged me to try to hide my skin from other people.’
Ms Pugliese says if it was not for her skin condition, she would not be the person she is today
Despite her new confidence, cruel remarks from children did affect her self-esteem once
‘Some would call me Dalmatian’
Although Ms Pugliese has learnt to accept her appearance, she was subjected to unkind remarks during her childhood.
She said: ‘Some children did say really horrible things, they told me I looked like a monkey and used to give me dirty looks.
‘Some would call me Dalmatian because of how my birthmark is and then they would all laugh at me.
‘I had good friends at school, they never let me think anything was wrong with me.
‘I tried not to let it bother me, but I did sometimes get upset.
She said: ‘If I did not have these spots, I’m sure that I would be a completely different person.
‘My birthmarks make it easy to see that the skin is just an organ to protect what really matters. I’m very happy to be the way I am.
‘Of course I used to wonder why it had happened to me, but I would never want to be different.’
Skin grafts as a child were so painful Ms Pugliese was left unable to even walk
She always had supportive friends at school (pictured with boyfriend Fellipe Koroboff, 24)
‘It was too painful to walk’
When Ms Pugliese was born, her birthmark was so large doctors were unsure how to treat her.
She was therefore referred to the Hospital das Clinicas where she has since undergone more than 30 surgeries to remove parts of her affliction, the first being at just six months old.
Ms Pugliese said: ‘The doctors who took my case together with my parents thought it best that parts of my birthmark were removed, because they were very large and the exposure to the sun is very dangerous.
‘They gave priority to the areas of greater risk like my arms and legs.
‘The surgeries were done with skin grafts removed from my calf, because that is where I have more white skin.
She said: ‘Then they removed parts of my birthmark and replaced it with the skin from my leg.
‘The recovery lasted two-to-three months, where I would be kept in bed as it was too painful to walk.’
Due to her birthmark, Ms Pugliese has to apply sun cream every day, as it makes her more prone to skin cancer.