Birthmark with Benefits

Cassandra Naud’s Congenital Nevus


Looking for a way to get ahead in the job market? Why not try a new haircut? How about a “What Not to Wear”-style fashion makeover to make your career pop?  Or, I know… a large, hairy facial birthmark. Cue sound of an old LP record being scratched.  For just about any job-seeker, a dark blotch on the face would not top a must-have list.  Probably not even make the Top Ten.


 Historically, just such a mark would be required for certain occupations.  In 1690’s Salem, a dark skin patch made one eligible for the Massachusetts Witch Brigade. The vetting process is shown in the 1853 Matteson painting "Examinaiton of a Witch."  Still, the job was temporary, had few benefits and ended without advancement.  Similarly, local opera houses favor deforming birthmarks when filling Phantom-in-Residence positions.

For the rest of us, and particularly in the image-oriented entertainment industry, most applicants would tend to conceal a birthmark, rather than promote it.

So professional dancer Cassandra Naud is a true mambo maverick. She was born with a large dark patch on her right cheek.  Over the years, the splotch has developed superficial bumps and many dark hairs. As featured in a profile in People magazine in 2015, Naud has taken what many would consider an epidermal lemon and brewed some lambada lemonade. That's right, Lambada, the forbidden dance (look it up)!

A native Canadian, Naud tolerated some childhood bullying but managed to retain her self-confidence.  As a teen, she had the option to undergo plastic surgery to remove the lesion, but opted to retain her blemish as a banner.  She reports that auditioning in LA, the Land of Looks, her mole makes her memorable, standing out in a positive way. 

Much like the vitiligo-afflicated fashion model, Winnie Harlow, Naud is using her skin-difference as a calling card, not a handicap. There are many types of birthmarks, grouped skin cells that express a shared trait.  The port wine stain blotch adorning Russian President Mikhail Borbachev and the arm of soul survivor Tina Turner are blood vessel birthmarks. 

Cassandra’s lesion is called a congenital melanocytic nevus.  Google translation from the medical-ese:  Pigment cell birthmark.  In addition to the dark color, larger congenital nevi like Naud’s can have a rough surface and develop hairs. Technically, much like any mole, there is a lifetime risk that the birthmark might take a bad turn, its cells becoming cancerous.  While she is using her birthmark to her advantage, any changes in shape or color of this type of lesion should be evaluated and possibly biopsied.

Naud is also acting as a role model for those with abnormal skin. And with over 39,000 followers on Instagram as of this posting, it’s a role that she and her mark were born to play.


Runner Up, Birthmarks with Benefits:

Harry Styles’ Extra Nipps

One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles has his own personal posse, an ever-present entourage that may rival Taylor Swift’s.

On his trunk, he has two extra nipples, double the accessory nipplage of Mark Wahlberg.  These small benign lesions have not slowed his career and give female fans a reason to ogle his chest and abs.  Because otherwise, why would they look?

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