Love is more than looks, yet sometimes people — especially those online — forget that.
It’s easy to hide behind our computer screens and judge people we don’t know, but those people are real, and they each have a story. Furthermore, each and every person in this world deserves love.
One woman from Brazil reminded people of that recently when online trolls targeted her for her pregnancy. Now, she’s showing off her gorgeous baby girl.
Growing Up With a Rare Condition
When Karine de Souza was just three years old, doctors in Brazil diagnosed her with a rare skin condition known as Xeroderma Pigmentosum. The condition causes skin sensitivity and melanoma. Because of a deficiency in the DNA, the body is unable to repair skin following UV exposure. That means de Souza needs to apply SPF 100 sunscreen every two hours, even when she is indoors.
De Souza has had more than 215 surgical procedures to remove sun lesions. One such surgery meant the removal of her lower lip and part of her nose.
“I am the target of a lot of glances, a lot of people stare at me, some of them distance themselves,” she once told Truly. “Many people have prejudice, they look at me with a strange face. With an expression of disgust. Calling me deformed, a zombie.”
The woman, who is in her early thirties, used to spend time asking herself why this all happened to her. But eventually, she realized that this is her life to live, and her condition doesn’t define her.
“I accept myself as I am, I am very happy,” she continued. “All of these surgeries have made me grow as a woman.”
Finding Unconditional Love
A few years ago, de Souza met a man named Edmilson online. He was attracted to her resilience and strength, and the two later wed. At that point, the comments online grew harsher, with many people accusing him of marrying a monster or only being with her for her money.
In marrying de Souza, Edmilson also became a loving stepfather to her three children.
He was also by her side during subsequent surgeries, including one visit when they discovered de Souza had developed two non-malignant nodes on her lungs and painful lesions on her back that all needed to be removed. As the doctors were treating her back, according to AmoMama, they discovered de Souza was pregnant.
The couple was full of joy at the news and posed for maternity photos and shared their love for their growing family online.
Responding to the Haters
Despite their obvious happiness, some people still wanted to tear de Souza down. Her Instagram feed became littered with comments telling her she was “irresponsible” for having a child given her condition, that her baby would be scared of her, and even that she was a “monster.”
Still, de Souza knew there was a less than one percent chance her baby would be born with the same condition. She had a ton of love to give and knew that love was more than skin-deep.
“The judgment is a reflection of themselves, not me,” she told Truly. The mother carried that same attitude with her through childbirth and shared all of the proud mom photos any other mother would upon her daughter’s birth.
She explained how people shouldn’t judge without knowing someone else’s story, and she hopes to instill those lessons in her own children over the years.
“Be happy, smile, because life only happens once,” she said.
Shrug off the Naysayers
This story is so beautiful because it reminds us of the power of love and how deep it can go.
So many of us get caught up in judging ourselves (and others) for small things that really don’t matter. A few extra pounds. Some pimples. A crooked nose. Whatever those external things that bother us are, they aren’t why people love us. And they aren’t why we love others.
Remembering that and trying to keep the things that truly matter, like character, personality, or morals, in mind will only serve to make you happier.
And when someone does judge you for your looks or something they know nothing about, remember de Souza. She was dealt a tough hand in life, yet she keeps on smiling. She, and all of us, deserve love. So why not start by giving yourself some self-love today?
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