Recently featured in Marie Claire, content creator and body image advocate Nathalia Freitas is on a mission to #normalizediffererent.
Nathalia has a rare skin condition called Congenital Melanocytic Nevus (CMN), a fancy term for a pigment-based birthmark. Throughout her childhood, she had several surgeries to remove the CMN birthmark, which then covered 40% of her face, and which is still sprinkled over her body in the form of moles, also known as “satellites.”
Having learned to love her dots, Nathalia uses her experience as a platform for empowerment, and is organically growing her audience through storytelling.
“I launched [my instagram], @LovingMyDots, one year ago to promote connectivity among diversity. Loving My Dots started as my attempt to reach out to people with visible differences, or anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable with their appearance, hoping to inspire them, but [it] transformed into a journey of self-love. Every time I share my story, I inspire someone and heal myself a little more.” Being candid about her condition has not come to her naturally; Nathalia has to push herself to be transparent with her audience.
Keepin’ It Real
Nathalia started Loving My Dots from a personal account with 1,000 followers, and in one year, she grew it to a staggering 10,000 followers. Her secret? Organic engagement and being herself.
“Sharing my story openly on social media is challenging everyday. I have to be courageous in order to be vulnerable and not worry about what people think, and that is a constant exercise. Especially in this “internet world” where many people tend to only share the bright side of their lives. However, being true to myself and embracing who I am, changed my life! When I did that, I finally found happiness and people started liking me even more.
I used to only post pictures with a filter. Sometimes I would use facetune to make my scars less evident. I would never post a story or a video of [myself] talking to the camera, I always thought people wouldn’t want to hear what I have to say. I would basically only post things that I assumed people would want to see… I believe that I got people’s attention when I started showing my real story, and being myself. [An] audience can tell when things are too perfect and not real, and they want to see stories that they can relate and feel connectected to.
Besides sharing my own story, I feature other authentic stories on my Instagram, connect to people from different parts of the world, and produce content related to culture, causes, minorities, and equality, that can sometimes be sensitive to discuss. Being connected to a diverse community of other influencers via collabs on and offline, not only inspires me but has helped me to reach a bigger audience.”
Nathalia is taking Loving My Dots to new heights as a guest speaker for South by Southwest (SXSW), a conglomeration of music, media, and film festivals and conferences in Austin, Texas. She will host a talk called Disfigurement: An Identity.
“It was very challenging growing up with CMN and facial scars [that resulted from the surgeries]. Being different was always a big deal, especially in my childhood. Since I can remember, people [have] always asked me wherever I go, ‘what happened to your face?’ and at school I was badly bullied.”
Speaking in front of a big audience doesn’t come to Nathalia naturally, but her childhood and day-to-day life are what motivate her to be strong for others with similar experiences. “My focus with this panel is to be able to educate and #normalizedifferent. I hope that people leave my speech with a deeper understanding about what it means to be different. The next time they see someone with visible differences or disabilities, I hope they will feel more familiar with that situation and they will know what to do.”
Planning for Purpose
For Nathalia, @LovingMyDots is just the beginning of a movement. “I’m learning what my purpose is as I go. I plan on doing more speeches this year, and growing my community [offline]. Also, I would love to write a kid’s book that [shares] my story, [talks] about kindness, and [creates] awareness against bullying.”
In closing, Nathalia encourages everyone to inspire others with their niche. “Look for something that you are passionate about. What is the cause/subject that you truly believe [in]? Something that makes you happy,… excited everyday,… and doesn’t feel like work. When you find your [calling], you will do it with authenticity, and things are going to flow.”
Hear more about Nathalia’s story at @lovingmydots on IG or visit lovingmydots.com!