Nobody should ever be treated differently merely because of their appearance.
Unfortunately, children and adults indulge in this conduct regularly, which is never acceptable. Ask Ilka Brühl, born with the rare genetic disorder ectodermal dysplasia, which affected her facial shape.
After being treated to nasty remarks at school, the German teenager wished she could turn invisible. Simultaneously, she succeeded in school and eventually realized that sharing her story could help others.
Ilka is now a model and published author. Through social media and a podcast she conducts, she hopes to inspire people to realize their inner beauty and accept one another for who they are.
This is her extraordinary experience, as well as how she looks today, at 30.
Now I want you, the reader, to take a moment to reflect on your life at the age of 16. I have many memories from that time, both pleasant and sad. However, it was a time of enormous change in general. I had to deal with more hormones, an overabundance of emotions, and occasionally even mental challenges.
Ilka Brühl was born with ectodermal dysplasia.
I hope it was a joyful time for you, as it was for me.
Consider being called “Pig Nose,” “Freak,” or “Alien” when you were 16 years old. Imagine you were the only one at school who wanted to play, and when other kids noticed you, they made fun of you and pointed.
Ilka is now an inspiration to millions of people all around the world. She hopes to help people through her work.
Ilka Brühl’s parents thought their daughter was in excellent condition till she was born in January 1992. She truly was. Medical specialists noticed the young girl’s breathing issues. Her nose’s airways had been clogged for whatever reason.
Doctors fixed her cleft palate, which required emergency surgery. By that point, it was clear that Ilka was “different” in some way.
School is a stressful atmosphere for many children all around the world. Regrettably, Ilka grew to understand this more than most. The children didn’t realize she was the same as everyone else at her school.
According to accounts, students at her school questioned her appearance and mocked her.
“At first, I wondered: How else am I expected to look? That’s exactly how I am! But then I looked in the mirror and noticed my nose was different. “You start doubting yourself,” she told the German tabloid Kurier.
Even though she was a lovely young lady, bullies at school were unrelenting. They dubbed her “Freak,” “Alien,” or “Pig Nose” and refused to play with her.
“As a child, I frequently experienced eye infections because my tear duct was not developed and migraines because my paranasal sinuses were extremely sensitive to moisture,” Ilka explained.
“However, I was always able to deal with the symptoms.”
“My parents always gave me the idea that I was right the way I was,” she continued. As a child, I could boldly respond to dumb remarks or stares. Nonetheless, the query arose during puberty: “If I’m meant to be so normal, why don’t you see others like me anywhere?”
Ilka even purposefully made expressions in photos so her parents wouldn’t hang them up at home.
“That was my evasion tactic,” she explained. “I don’t have to see it if I look at images so stupidly that my mother doesn’t hang them up.”
As she grew older, Ilka’s sense of self-doubt grew stronger. She learned this not only from what she listened to in class but also through television commercials. Businesses, according to Ilka, routinely issued commercials that pushed social ideals of what was desirable, and she felt she was never represented. As a result, the girl claimed that exhibiting her face was far more embarrassing than showing herself naked.
She faced a lot of bullying at school but refused to let it bother her. Ilka excelled at school, earning the top grades in her class.
“It was almost like a parallel life,” she recounted.
Before the photograph, everything had changed.
Ilka struggled to make friends because of her low self-esteem and self-confidence.
She had ten operations, and while she battled with accepting herself at first, things began to improve over time. She became a confident woman eager to set an example for others after recognizing she was no less valuable than everyone else.
Everything changed in 2014, on her way to her first photo shoot.
“I was on the verge of turning around numerous times on the way to [the photographer] because I was so afraid she would laugh at me when she saw me in real life,” she wrote.
“Being in front of the camera has told me: Every imperfection and every error is a part of you, and that’s alright too. “All you have to do is make the most of it,” she concluded.
When Ilka was 20, she underwent a nose job. Ilka thought the treatment would finally give her the courage to accept herself, but it was mostly for medical reasons.
Things took a different turn after the procedure, however.
“If you embrace yourself, you can shine from within.”
“I saw the second imperfection as soon as the wounds healed. “I recognized at that moment that beauty cannot be made on the surgical table,” Ilka explained.
“[Beauty] is all about appearance for me. If you embrace yourself, you can shine from within, preferable to the most ideal person who dislikes themselves.”
Ilka realized there were alternatives to changing her appearance through more operations. It was more vital for her to learn to accept herself than for others to perceive her as a “normal” person.
“I approached people more honestly and grew to appreciate myself. And I’ve found that while the others don’t retreat from me, I withdraw from them!”
Ilka was aware of her “abnormal” appearance, but she didn’t mind. She liked to value her quirks. The woman, born in Germany, wanted to share her trials and tribulations because she realized she could help others accept themselves for who they are.
Brühl responded by recording a podcast about how she copes with self-doubt. She also provides tips on how to love oneself more. Her book, Differently Beautiful: How I Learned to Love Myself, has also been published.
She and a few friends founded Project Grenzenlos, which translates to Project Limitless, in 2018. The campaign aims to highlight the beauty of those with physical abnormalities or other defects. It, in her perspective, meets Ilka Brühl’s notion of beauty.
Pictures of Ilka Brühl today
“I think EVERYBODY is gorgeous in their way,” she remarked on Instagram. I frequently see remarks like, ‘You are not pretty just because you are different,’ [and] you are entirely correct! I am beautiful because EVERYONE is beautiful. It makes no difference if you are a classic beauty, tall, little, heavy, thin, black, or white.”
Ilka shares her narrative, as well as personal thoughts, on her blog and on Instagram. She recently completed a children’s book and has shared photos of herself as a child on several occasions.
“I decided to show a baby picture of myself. Because you can see my ‘fault’ better there. “I also receive a lot of direct messages asking why I look the way I do,” she stated.
“Initially, I was hesitant since some of you think that’s excessive. But that’s incorrect; it should be like any other baby image.”
“Everyone who knows me can affirm that it is incredibly essential for me and that I want to help others,” she said in a Facebook post. I want to help people with certain flaws and parents who are worried about their child’s acceptance in the world.”
Furthermore, after Project Grenzenlos premiered in 2018, Ilka has done an increasing number of modeling jobs – and she looks lovely!
Ilka is now generally recognized as a significant role model. Her journey has been incredible, and thanks to social media, people worldwide can follow her everyday activities. She presently has over 33,000 followers on Instagram.
Philip, whom she adored, married her.
Ilka has learned to embrace her flaws and become a role model for others. She has also met the love of her life.
She married her future husband, Philip, last year. And they appear to be entirely happy together!
Ilka shared a photo of herself in her wedding gown on Instagram.
“For me, the wedding was indescribably lovely. “I couldn’t believe how well things went the next day,” Ilka wrote.
“Sunny weather, everyone was in a good mood, and my husband (still want to say friend) looked great. I was overcome with emotion and burst into tears. It is a huge privilege to love someone so deeply, and I am eternally grateful for it. I’m looking forward to what’s next. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be able to name such a wonderful man my spouse.”
Nobody is perfect. However, regardless of how “different” some people appear, or if they have a disability, we should always treat one another with respect.
Please share this story with your Facebook friends and family because Ilka Brühl is a role model for others.