Paige Billiot was born with a large birthmark on her face, and she's encouraging others to embrace their 'flaws' with her Flawless Affect campaign

By Julie Mazziotta
February 27, 2018 02:04 PM

Actress Paige Billiot had to develop a strong self-esteem from an early age. Born with a large, port-wine birthmark on her face, she dealt with taunts and bullying from her classmates as a child.

At first, Billiot, now 25, was “ashamed of being different.”

“With what the societal beauty standards were, it made me feel like it wasn’t ok to be different and that something was wrong with me,” she tells PEOPLE. “I would have done anything to be normal just like everyone else.”

But thanks to a “strong personality” and sports, Billiot became a confident kid, and came to realize that her classmates teased her out of ignorance. Her family moved frequently, and at one new school, she decided to introduce herself to the class.

“I nervously walked to the front of everyone, I looked around, and I explained who I was and what my birthmark was. That’s when I noticed a huge difference in how others perceived me,” she says. “I learned that ignorance usually comes from a place of the unknown. Once I actually accepted my birthmark I was finally able to start my journey in embracing it.”

With her newfound appreciation for her birthmark, Billiot wanted to inspire others to stop looking at their flaws as a problem, and started a campaign, called Flawless Affect.

“I’ve always wanted to be somewhat of a role model for anyone who had a flaw and saw it negatively. One of the biggest challenges I faced growing up was feeling alone. If I would have known that there were other people facing similar struggles as myself of not being normal it definitely would have helped me,” she says.

With Flawless Affect, Billiot uses photography and videos to highlight her and others’ “flaws” and make them art. So far, she’s turned her birthmark into David Bowie’s famous Aladdin Sane album cover, a spooky Halloween look and more.

The campaign also helped Billiot embrace her birthmark in her career. She used to cover it up when she went on auditions, but now she leaves it be.

“I know that it’s still new for people to entertain the idea of an actress this different who’s role doesn’t call for a flaw, but that is one of my many goals with the campaign, and why I produce my own content,” she says. “My flaw is what makes me stand out than anyone else in a ruthless and beauty driven industry, so I will use it to my advantage.”

Billiot is thrilled by how people have embraced Flawless Affect so far, and has bigger plans in the works to collaborate with different organizations and makeup lines.

“What we can do and how to spread this movement is limitless,” she says. “I put a lot of time, energy, and passion into Flawless Affect and to me it has already succeeded, but I know it will succeed more. I couldn’t imagine me without my flaws. Our flaws are what make us unique.”