Six-month-old Charlie Crenshaw is a vibrant baby girl with a beautiful smile, but people don't always notice that at first. Instead, they tend to ask, "What's wrong with her face?"
According to her mom, HuffPost blogger Katie Mullis Crenshaw, Charlie was born with a capillary hemangioma (aka "strawberry mark") that doctors have deemed cosmetic. Katie told The Huffington Post that her daughter has seen specialists and takes daily medication to ensure it does not grow any larger or obstruct her vision.
With no known cause or prevention options, hemangiomas tend to "involute or disappear eventually," the mom wrote on her blog, Twelve And Six. She also shared her response to the many strangers, friends and family who are quick to mention Charlie's hemangioma.
We don’t need to talk about it every time you look at her. We see past the color of her face. Charlie is Charlie and it’s part of who she is. It doesn’t need to be constantly commented on, critiqued, or questioned. While I don’t mind educating curious minds, I don’t need your opinion on how it its progress [sic] or the affect [sic] it may have on her. It’s a part of her unique beauty. It may never disappear, and guess what? It doesn’t have to. I would much rather chat about her latest milestone achievement, her amazing smile, or how gorgeous her eyes are.
Katie hopes her beautiful Instagram photos of her daughter will change people's perceptions of Charlie and others who look a little different.
"I would like to normalize 'differences' in appearances," the mom told HuffPost, adding, "People tend to immediately pity people who look different and I would like to change that conversation."
Instead, Katie hopes people can get to know Charlie for who she really is.
"Her personality is dynamic," she said. "Everyone she meets comments on her piercing eyes, or that she seems like an old soul that understands much more than we think. She is extremely motivated and is already crawling and trying to stand."
After sharing Charlie's story, Katie said she received some criticism based in misconceptions she'd like to clear up.
"I don't feel I am doing her an injustice by not having it cosmetically removed to protect her from bullies," she explained. "As a child, I was bullied, and I had nothing wrong with me. I think to protect our children from bullies we should instill confidence and values in who they are, the way they were made."
"No one wants their child to be picked on, but children can be ruthless," she continued. "They will pick on kids for their name, their brand of shoes, or the way they talk. It's just something that may or may not happen."
Katie also wants others to know her family is open to answering questions about "the birthmark" and do understand their concern and compassion. "We just hope to educate people on our perspective and perhaps challenge them to think about the way they think and the words they say," she said.
Beyond the negative feedback, however, the mom says she received dozens of inspiring emails from parents of kids with hemangiomas and adults who had them as children.
As the mom wrote in her blog post, "Hold the pity. She’s a healthy baby girl and we are blessed. Her hemangioma is just as insignificant to who she is as a freckle on her arm. You don’t need to mention it, and you don’t need to wish it away."
Keep scrolling for and visit Katie Mullis Crenshaw's Instagram for a look at her beautiful photos of baby Charlie.