As a child, being made to feel 'different' can often seem like the worst thing imaginable.
That's exactly how Rebecca Heckard felt during her childhood, having been born with piebaldism, a rare skin and hair condition that often causes patients to have white streaks and vitiligo-like birthmarks on their hair and skin.
Nicknamed 'skunk' because of the prominent white streak in her hair – which everyone in her family has had in her family for at least four-generations, according to the Daily Mail – and patches of white skin, Heckard explained she used layers of thick make-up and clothing as a child to cover up her birthmarks.
'I was always quite timid about showing my birthmarks from six-years-old to 20,' Rebecca revealed to the publication.
'I even asked to be taken to the doctors for them to cover my birthmarks but nothing could be done.
'I remember getting make-up to cover my forehead for the first time, I was using a brown lipstick as I wanted to hide it. It was hard to deal with, most of it just made me feel sad, excluded and like a reject, I could never understand any of it until I got older,' she added.
However, that all changed last year when Rebecca wore a bikini for the first time.
'Over the years, it got to the point where I would look in the mirror and no matter how hard I tried to perfect my hair or makeup, it would always be wrong. I didn't recognize my own beauty but I knew I had to stop covering it.
'Then I went to Miami with a group of friends, none of them had ever seen my birthmarks before.
Most of it just made me feel sad, excluded and like a reject
'I wore a bikini to the beach and showed my birthmarks for the first time, but to my surprise everyone acted normally. This was a beautiful moment. A breath of fresh air. I freed myself,' she added.
In the months that followed, the New-York-born beauty started to focus on building her confidence and self-love, and learned to appreciate her unique birthmarks – which she refers to as her 'constellations' –, experimenting with wearing shorts and crop tops and showing off her unique look on Instagram.
'When I came back from Miami, I started working on getting out of my shell and becoming confident wearing revealing clothes more often,' Rebecca explained.
'This year, I'm much happier, more open, more bold, I've received so much love and nothing negative, it's been incredible.'
I didn't recognize my own beauty but I knew I had to stop covering it
Discussing her birthmarks, she said: 'I have one in the middle of my forehead that goes up into my hairline like a shooting star, then it's like I have a circular galaxy on my stomach and the birthmarks on my legs are angel's kisses.'
So, it comes as no surprise the communications student is now working as a model and writing a book to explain her own story with piebaldism.
'In my modelling I can express myself and feel beautiful, even when I'm showing my legs now, which used to be a very sensitive point for me.
'Now I feel beautiful faster than I feel afraid, I know I can walk into a room full of attractive women and feel beautiful too,' she added.
She's also on a mission to inspire other girls who suffer from similar skin conditions to embrace the skin they're in.
Now I feel beautiful faster than I feel afraid
'Online there is a little girl with a streak in her hair who messages me, I'm trying to be a role model for her and show her that she has nothing to fear.
'Even though my legs are a sensitive point for me, I hope I'm able to show others not to be insecure or ashamed no matter what happens, and to embrace their differences,' she concluded.
You can say that again, Rebecca.