When Harper King was born, her loving parents Ebony and Jamie admit they were “speechless” when they saw the huge birthmark covering most of her face.
While she was beautiful, they were worried about how she would be treated as she was older.
Little Harper was born with a 1 in 20,000 birthmark across the left side of her face and her nose.
Despite their initial concerns, her parents turned down the offer of surgery to allow her to make the decision for herself when she’s older – saying it “makes her even more beautiful”.
Ebony, 23, from Huddersfield, Yorkshire, says: “The birthmark came as a huge shock, and it upset me so much to think how Harper might be treated as she grows up. People can be very cruel.
“But to us, it’s just a part of her and we can’t ever imagine her without it.
“Her older siblings call it her ‘special mark’ and that is exactly how we see it too; Harper is special. She is even more beautiful with her birthmark and we will make sure we tell her that every day.”
Ebony and Jamie, 34, met in 2016 and have a son, Harley, aged three. Jamie also has an older daughter, Hollie, nine, from a previous relationship.
Harper joined their little family in September 2020, weighing 8lbs 4ozs.
Ebony says: “The pregnancy went well and Harper was delivered by planned caesarean section. When she was born, Jamie said to me: ‘She has a really big birthmark on her face’.
“When I saw her, I was speechless. I couldn’t believe that half of her entire face was covered.
“I was in shock, I think, and it wasn’t until about two weeks later that I just sat down and cried my heart out. I wasn’t crying for me, but I was crying for Harper and for all the prejudice she will face in the future.
“I worry so much about her starting school and how cruel people can be, children as well as adults.”
Specialists have told the family that the birthmark is a Congenital Melanocytic Naevus, and a large one on the face is so rare that it is happens to 1 in 20,000 births.
Luckily, it is simply a birthmark and it is unlikely to cause Harper no serious health issues, though she will have further tests. She has other smaller birthmarks, known as satellites, around her body, but these too are harmless.
The couple were offered the option of surgery to remove the birthmark, which would involve skin grafts and inevitably be a painful procedure involving scarring.
Ebony says: “The birthmark has faded a little since she was born but it will never fade completely.
“We’ve decided to leave the surgery until Harper is old enough to make up her own mind. It’s a huge undertaking and she should be the one to decide.
“For us now, it’s part of her and we can’t imagine our daughter without it. Her development is perfect and she’s a really cheeky, mischievous little girl.
“Her big brother and sister adore her and call her birthmark; ‘the special mark.’ I know life won’t be easy for Harper, she will face a lot of challenges.
“But it’s our job to make her feel special and to make her see that the birthmark makes her even more beautiful.”