Ferrin Roy has never tried to hide her 4-inch facial birthmark, and in her new book she hopes to inspire others to embrace their differences
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Credit: Courtesy Ferrin Roy

Ferrin Roy has become a face of self-love and acceptance.

Born with a 4-inch birthmark on her right cheek, Roy has learned to love her unique feature, despite receiving negative attention for it throughout her life. In her new book, The Mark She Kept, the 30-year-old is inspiring others to embrace their differences, too.

“When the stares and the comments were in an overload, I thought about removing my birthmark,” she tells PEOPLE. “I met with a plastic surgeon. Then it really sunk in — if I removed it, it would be to satisfy the opinion of others. This is something I had since I was a child, so I grew with it. I had to tell myself, ‘This is you, and you have already accepted who you are.’ ”

Roy credits her mom for her making her feel beautiful and instilling self-confidence.

“My mom incorporated it when she was teaching me: ‘These are your eyes, this is your nose, this is your birthmark…’ so as a child I felt like this was a part of me,” says the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Roy. “If, say, my mom would have combed my hair a particular way to camouflage my birthmark, that would have made a complete difference.”

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Instead, Roy’s mom made her realize that she was beautiful inside and out. “She taught me how people should treat me and how to defend myself,” says Roy, adding that her mom encouraged her to take dance classes and compete in local pageants. “I think that has a lot to do with how I feel about myself.”

Credit: Courtesy Ferrin Roy

It also helps that Roy was never bullied growing up in her small town, where she had a great group of friends. “They were used to seeing me with my birthmark,” she says. In fact, it was strangers who made an issue of it.

Roy recalls the first time she felt bad about her birthmark. She was in the fourth grade, singing in a youth church choir. “This lady stood up [in front of everyone and] said, ‘You know I’ve been making a gesture to this young lady to remove what is on her face’… It was a very embarrassing moment for me.”

When negative comments got her down, Roy says she would have “this conversation booster” with herself. “I would find a mirror and talk to myself and say, ‘Oh whatever — you’re still pretty,’ she says. “I would remind myself, this is what you see, you can’t worry about what they are seeing.”

Roy, a mental health counselor, is hoping to instill that same body confidence in her daughters, Hailyn, 8, and Aavyn, 5. “I teach them that everyone is different and no one is made the same,” she says. “My youngest rubs my birthmark and says it’s fun and it’s soft.”

Ferrin Roy with her daughters
| Credit: Courtesy Ferrin Roy

Married to Shavayne Roy for a little over a year, Roy also praises her husband for his acceptance from the start of their relationship. “I asked him what he thought about my birthmark and he said, “If I thought anything negative about it, I wouldn’t have asked you on a date,” she says with a laugh. “He is very supportive.”

She added: “I asked him, if our children have birthmarks, how would you feel? He said, ‘I would be OK with this it, they have you [as a role model] so I think they would be OK.’ If someone loves you they are going to accept you for who you are, and I have never covered it, ever. He’s never asked me to.”