When Ciera Swaringen’s parents, both from North Carolina, hold their daughter in their arms for the first time, they get a huge shock. The baby is covered all over with huge black spots.
Ciera suffers from so-called “congenital melanocytic nevus.” Because of this rare skin condition - that only affects around 1 in 500,000 - her entire body is covered with large liver spots and birth marks. The largest one covers the entire area between her thighs and her belly button. The doctors say that these marks on her skin are not dangerous, but that they are too numerous to remove. “They are constantly growing and I always get new ones,” says Ciera.
Despite this, her parents love her for who she is and have lovingly named the spots “Angel kisses.” But on the streets, people often stare at or bully the the 19-year-old. “I remember how a boy laughed at me in the school buss and called me a ‘dalmation,’” recounts the teenager. “That really gnawed at my self confidence. I was so young and I always felt so different as the other children as if something was wrong with me.”