Mother of Baby with 'Strawberry' Facial Birthmark Wants Others to Stop the Negativity: 'It's Part of What Makes Her Beautiful'
Baby Charlie Crenshaw has gorgeous sky-blue eyes, a toothless grin and a captivating giggle – but that’s not what most people first notice when they meet the 7-month-old.
Charlie’s mom, Katie Crenshaw, says strangers tend to comment on the reddish, benign tumor covering her daughter’s right cheek, often asking her the question ‘What’s wrong with her face?’
“The most hurtful comment someone said was, ‘She’s so pretty otherwise!’ ” Crenshaw, 29, tells PEOPLE. “That struck me. Stop the negativity! It’s part of what makes her beautiful, it’s just like any other characteristic.”
Charlie has a capillary hemangioma, also known as a “strawberry birthmark,” on her face that will most likely fade as she grows up, but her mom says the blood vessel overgrowth is all anyone can talk about when they meet her.
“We get that people will stare, that’s just what happens when you see somebody that looks different,” Crenshaw says. “What bothers me is when people act disrespectfully.”
She adds, “I don’t want her to feel like there is something wrong with her.”
Crenshaw, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband Tyler and their two children Charlie and Grayson, penned an emotional, blog post in January after enduring hurtful comments from friends and family.
“Someone was taking a picture of [Charlie] and said, ‘Why don’t you turn her so we can get the good side of her face,’ ” she says. “I realized I needed to share my thoughts on this with the world.”
“We don’t need to talk about it every time you look at her. We see past the color of her face. Charlie is Charlie and it’s part of who she is. It doesn’t need to be constantly commented on, critiqued or questioned ” she wrote on her blog, Twelve&Six. “…It’s part of her unique beauty. It may never disappear, and guess what? It doesn’t have to. I would much rather chat about her latest milestone achievement, her amazing smile, or how gorgeous her eyes are.
“I encourage you to, instead of praying it will disappear, pray that she grows into a confident girl who loves herself no matter what she looks like. Pray that constant comments and opinions from friends, family and strangers will end before she’s old enough to overhear them. Pray that she will be a strong person in an age where we are bullied for any number of reasons,” Crenshaw continued.
“I encourage you to look past it. What if I came up to you and loudly asked, ‘What’s wrong with your baby’s weird ____?’ Or, ‘I will pray for your child that her (genetically unusual quality) goes away.’
“Just consider that. Consider that you are offering to pray away one of my daughter’s beautiful features that makes her who she is.
” Her entire face is my sweet Charlie, and it doesn’t matter what it looks like,” she said in closing.
Crenshaw says she hopes sharing her story will encourage other parents to accept their children as they are and to do everything they can to support them.
“You don’t have to change your child to protect them,” she says. “Every child will have struggles. Just be there for them and let them know you love them. “