At first glance, you might be wondering what's wrong with the little girl's face, and that comes as no surprise to her mom — it's pretty much the first thing that people ask Katie Crenshaw as soon as they see her.
But this strong mother is hoping to change the world's mind — one beautiful Instagram post at a time. First of all, as Katie says, there is absolutely nothing wrong with little Charlie Kate's face or the "birthmark" that is a part of who she is.
This capillary hemangioma or "strawberry" is about 5 cm x 6 cm and is a defect that occurred extremely early in Katie's pregnancy when Charlie's vascular system was developing. Doctors have deemed Charlie's hemangioma as cosmetic, and she is taking daily medication to prevent it from growing any larger, potentially blocking her vision.
But to Charlie's family, she doesn't have a "good side" that they choose for family pictures. Katie doesn't retouch her hemangioma in any of the stunning photos that fill her Instagram feed. "Her entire face is my sweet Charlie, and it doesn't matter what it looks like," Katie wrote on her blog, Twelve and Six. "Hold the pity. She's a healthy baby girl and we are blessed. Her hemangioma is just as insignificant to who she is as a freckle on her arm. You don't need to mention it, and you don't need to wish it away."
While most hemangiomas disappear eventually, Katie wants people to know that it's very possible to see past it in the meantime and appreciate Charlie for the precious baby girl that she already is.
"It's a 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," added Katie. "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."
Charlie's mama is OK with educating curious minds, but she still has to try daily to remind herself that most humans are well-intentioned. "I don't get angry about brief stares. I understand that it's human nature to do a double take when you see something about someone that makes them different," wrote Katie.
That said, Katie encourages all of the strangers who say that they're going to pray her daughter's birthmark disappears, to instead 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," said Katie. "Pray that she will be a strong person in an age where we are bullied for any number of reasons."