Cassandra Naud was born with a large birthmark under her right eye – but she wouldn’t dream of removing it.
“I feel like it’s been such a positive thing in my life,” the professional dancer, 22, tells PEOPLE. “It helps me be more memorable, which is super important in this industry as a performer.”
When she was a baby, Naud’s parents decided not to have the birthmark removed – it’s technically a nevus, or pigmented patch of skin – after doctors told them the procedure would be too risky. Although she is ultimately happy with their decision, Naud did experience some bullying when she was young.
“I was teased when I was in elementary school,” says the Alberta, Canada, native. “People always had questions, but I was pretty confident in my appearance.”
In fact, she was so self-assured that although she considered removing her birthmark when she was 13, she decided against it.
“I was going into high school and didn’t know what the reaction would be,” she explains. “We made the appointment, and then right after I changed my mind.”
Since then, she’s “grown to love it.”
“It definitely helps people remember me,” Naud says. “One time I was shopping back in my hometown and this woman came up to me and said, ‘I delivered you! I was one of the nurses in the delivery room!’ It was cool that she was able to see me and just know that that was me.”
Now as a dancer living in Los Angeles, she finds that her unique birthmark is an advantage when she goes on auditions.
“It’s always been positive,” she says of reactions to her look. “Some people just get really excited, like, ‘Oh my God, the director’s going to love this!’ No one’s ever been critical.”
And it’s not just people in the industry who have taken notice of her one-of-a-kind beauty: Naud has a huge social-media following, with over 19,000 followers on Instagram.
“It’s cool to see that many people be so interested, and to see so many positive reactions,” she says. “I hope that they see that I’m a super-positive person. Something like this, like a birthmark, it’s not negative. You have to see the positive, let go, and know that it’s okay.”