A mum-of-two whose life had been blemished by a distinctive skin condition has been signed by a top modelling agency.
Cheryl Shaw, 34, was born with congenital malanocytic naevus, a rare condition which causes large moles to grow all over sufferers’ bodies.
She told the Birmingham Mail that she has been mocked and bullied for it her whole life.
After sharing photos of herself on Instagram , she has now been snapped up by a leading agency which specialises in models with “different and distinctive” looks.
Cheryl plans to juggle modelling gigs for Models of Diversity with her day job as practice manager for a GP surgery.
She said: “I couldn’t believe it when they contacted me. My boys (aged four and 11) and my mum are so proud of me.
“Now I just want to inspire other people who look different – especially women with my condition.”
Congenital malanocytic naevus has followed Cheryl her entire life. Even as a baby loved ones were reluctant to hold her because of her condition.
As she grew older, she discovered ways to conceal her large moles.
She got hold of professional skin make-up from a dermatologist, and always covered her arms and legs in public.
Even in summer, she would wear three layers of thick tights when wearing a skirt.
She also refused to go swimming – both at schoolgirl and with her kids.
Cheryl, from Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, said: “I’ve been called names like ‘spotty face’, ‘Dalmatian’ and ‘cookie’. It made me hate myself and dislike the way I looked, as I felt it wasn’t normal.
“Summer was always a struggle as I used to wear thick layers of clothing because of the name calling.
“People used to stare at me and refused to sit next to me on a bus.”
Her life changed dramatically one year as frustrations boiled over while packing for a summer holiday.
She said: “I decided that enough was enough and asked myself, how am I going to change this?
“I ordered a few shorts and decided to wear them on holiday, and I didn’t care what anyone thought.
“Slowly I started to love myself and build up my confidence. Now I know that not everyone has to be the same to be beautiful – accepting who I am has changed my attitude.
“I couldn’t be happier with myself now. Waking up every morning knowing I’m able to be confident in my own skin is such a good feeling.
“With this modelling opportunity I want those who are suffering with skin conditions, disabilities, scarring and weight issues to think that no matter what people’s opinions are, or what you class as flaws, can be classed as someone else’s perfection.”
She was contacted by Models of Diversity four weeks ago – and not looked back since.
The agency promotes people who do not conform to the “classic model” ideal.
On their books are models with a range of disabilities , or have undergone amputations.
A spokeswoman for the Models of Diversity said: “We see no reason why Cheryl couldn’t do any editorial, fashion or media work.
“She is professional, hard-working and beautiful. We campaign for more models of diversity to be in the fashion, beauty and media industry – be it colour, size, age or ability.
“Every area of society should be represented.”