Never treat different-looking people differently.
Unfortunately, children and adults do this. Ectodermal dysplasia sufferer Ilka Brühl testifies.
School bullies made the German girl want to disappear. She was a good student and knew her tale could help others.
Model and writer Ilka. Her podcast promotes self-acceptance on social media.
Her remarkable story and 30-year-old appearance.
Consider your 16th year. Those memories are nice and bad. But much changed. Hormones, emotions, and mental health difficulties increased.
Ectodermal dysplasia-born Ilka Brühl
I hope you had fun like me.
Imagine being called “Freak,” “Alien,” or “Pig Nose” at 16. Imagine being laughed at and shunned by schoolchildren.
Most never experienced such violence. German girl Ilka Brühl experienced it constantly.
Ilka was born with cleft lips and nose. Ectodermal dysplasia is rare.
Long before surgery, she had the anomaly.
She understood her deformity did not define her appearance. After learning surgery couldn’t improve her face, Ilka accepted it.
Ilka inspires millions worldwide. She aids.
Ilka Brühl: youth
Ilka Brühl’s parents thought she was healthy until her January 1992 delivery. She was. Doctors observed the girl’s respiratory issues. Nose blocked.
Emergency cleft palate surgery. Ilka looked “different” then.
Many kids worldwide find school hard. Ilka knew that. Her classmates didn’t realize she was like them.
Schoolchildren mocked her about her appearance.
How else should I look? I am! “Then you start questioning yourself,” she told Kurier.
Despite her beauty, school bullies continued. She was dubbed “Freak,” “Alien,” and “Pig Nose” and never played.
Ilka said, “As a child, I often had eye infections because my tear duct was not developed, and headaches because my paranasal sinuses were very susceptible to moisture.
I managed symptoms.
She refused home photos.
She added, “My parents always made me feel right. As a child, I rebuked stupidity. “If I’m supposed to be so normal, why don’t you see people like me anywhere?” adolescent asked.
Ilka even looked in photos to avoid her parents hanging them.
“That’s my avoidance,” she said. “I don’t have to see it if I look at photos so stupidly my mom doesn’t hang it.”
Teen Ilka doubted herself. School and TV ads taught her. Ilka felt unrepresented as firms promoted social beauty ideals. The girl thought showing her face was worse than being naked.
She ignored school bullying. Ilka excelled.
It was her double life.
Poor self-esteem prevented Ilka from making friends.
She accepted herself after ten procedures. After discovering her worth, she became confident and inspired others.
2014’s first photoshoot changed everything.
“On the way to [the photographer], I was on the verge of turning around several times because I was so terrified that she would laugh at me when she saw me in real life,” she wrote to Insider.
I’ve learned that every defect and error is part of you. She said, “Make the most of it.”
20-year-old Ilka got rhinoplasty. Ilka felt the surgery would give her courage to love herself.
Surgery changed everything.
“If you love yourself, you shine.”
After the wounds healed, another flaw appeared. “I realized beauty cannot be created on the operating table,” Ilka told BILD.
I consider beauty appearance. Accepting oneself lets you shine from within.
Ilka chose other activities over surgery. Instead of “normal,” she needed to accept herself.
I enjoyed myself and became outgoing. “The others don’t withdraw from me, I withdraw from them!”
Ilka knew she looked “different,” but that was acceptable. She liked being different. German woman realized sharing her experiences and struggles could help others accept themselves.
Brühl podcasted about her self-doubt. She advises self-love. She published Differently Beautiful: How I Learned to Love Myself.
She and two friends founded Project Grenzenlos (Project Limitless) in 2018. The campaign celebrates disfigured beauty. Ilka Brühl loves it.
Ilka Brühl today—photos
“I think EVERYBODY is beautiful in his own way,” she said on Instagram. I hear, “You’re not pretty because you’re different,” and it’s true! Everyone’s pretty. Never worry if you are a classic beauty, tall, tiny, hefty, slender, black, white.”
Ilka’s blog and Instagram show her life. She used childhood images in her children’s book.
Showed my baby photo. My “defect” is more visible there. “I also get many direct messages asking why I look like I do,” she said.
“I hesitated because some of you think that’s too much. That’s wrong—it should be like every other newborn picture.”
She posted on Facebook: “Everyone who knows me can confirm that it is really important for me and that I want to help others. Want to aid deformed people and parents anxious about their child’s acceptance.”
Ilka started modeling after Project Grenzenlos in 2018 and looked terrific!
Today, Ilka inspires. Follow her inspirational journey on social media. 33,000 Instagram followers.
Ilka accepts herself. She found love.
She married Philip last year. They’re happy!
Ilka Instagrammed a wedding dress.
Beautiful wedding. “I couldn’t believe how great everything went,” Ilka wrote.
Sunny weather, pleasant people, and my hubby looked terrific. Cried lots. I appreciate loving so much. Everything’s exciting. I’m thrilled to be married to such a great guy.”
Nobody’s perfect. Respect everyone, regardless of appearance or disability.