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People with rare skin condition challenge 'conventional perceptions of beauty' in photography exhibition

Several of the models photographed for the exhibition had never publicly shown their skin condition before

Katie O'Malley
Thursday 14 March 2019 13:48 GMT
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A new exhibition celebrating men and women born with an untreatable skin condition has gone on display in London.

On Thursday, a series of photos titled “How Do You C Me Now?” were exhibited at the Oxo Tower Wharf to inspire the world “to love the skin you are in”.

The models featured in the photos, taken by London-based photographer Brock Elbank, live with a potentially life-threatening skin condition called congenital melanocytic naevus (CMN).

According to the National Organisation of Rare Disorders (NORD), CMN are visible pigmented proliferations in the skin that are present at birth that can cover up to 80 per cent of the body. CMN are a known risk factor for melanoma - a type of cancer that develops from the pigment-containing cells.

“CMN can be light brown to black patches or plaques, can present in variable ways, and cover nearly any size surface area or any part of the body,” NORD states.

Small to medium CMN are predicted to occur in more than one in a 100 births while large and especially giant CMN (covering a a predicted diameter at adult age of at least 20 cm on the body) are estimated to present themselves in around 1 in 50,000 births.

The exhibition, which is being supported by UK CMN charity Caring Matters Now, has been presented throughout 30 different portraits and aims to challenge "conventional perceptions of beauty".

A spokesperson from Caring Matters Now says: “People with CMN often feel isolated due to the rarity of the condition and have to deal with negative comments because of their visible difference, resulting in low self-esteem."

Models featured in the exhibition include seven-year-old Rosabella Harrison from Norfolk and 26-year-old Yulianna Yusef from Ukraine.

Several of the individuals photographed for the exhibition have never shown their birthmarks in public before.

“In a world where people work hard to stand out from the crowd, 'How Do You C Me Now?' aims to celebrate diversity and educate the public about this rare condition," a spokesperson from the charity added.

This isn’t the first time the exhibition’s photographer has focussed on physical features of models.

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In 2015, Elbank produced a series titled “Beard” which featured 80 bearded models and was exhibited at Somerset House.

Admission to the exhibition is free and will run for 10 days before touring the world.

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