Until recently, many people didn’t know that MSNBC anchor Yasmin Vossoughian was born with a large, purple birthmark covering much of her left leg.
Vossoughian, who co-anchors “Morning Joe First Look” on MSNBC, has often hid the birthmark under pants or tights throughout her career, worried about the reactions it might get from viewers.
Now, though, she is embracing her appearance, birthmark and all. She talked about her journey to self-acceptance on the 3rd hour of TODAY.
“I've been exhausted with hiding things from everybody, trying to cover up my birthmark so nobody sees it,” Vossoughian said. “I'm on the point where I am like, ‘You know what, let's put it out there, and if people don't like it, well, too bad for them.'”
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In a recent interview with Parade magazine, Vossoughian said she is “over” caring what other people think about her birthmark.
“It can be really taxing psychologically for me to think about it, especially in the summer months when I’m thinking about what I’m going to wear to hide it from the camera. But I’m done. I’m over it,” she said.
“This is a career where you can sometimes be judged as much by how you look as by what you say. I hate it but that’s the truth. When I was younger, I was reticent to talk about — and be out about — my leg,” she added. “I wanted to rise in my career being me and not being judged by something like a birthmark. At 40, I want to be more open about it.”
For Vossoughian, it’s been a long and sometimes difficult journey to reach this point of self-acceptance. As a young child, she recalls being bullied about her appearance.
“My sister and brother used to defend me a lot. There was actually a bully kid that used to bully me on the bus,” she said on the 3rd hour of TODAY. “And he would say, ‘Oh, it looks like someone spilled purple juice on your leg.’”
As a teen, she sometimes tried to cover her leg with cream to hide the birthmark.
And, even when she was older and launching her career as a TV journalist, she still felt insecure about her physical difference.
“When I entered the working world suddenly, I felt really judged,” she said. “I was wearing pants so long you couldn't glimpse any skin on my leg. I was so afraid that if I put it out there that I had this thing, I wouldn't get a job.”
Now, however, she is ready to open up about her struggles — and ready to own her body.
“So often, as women, we base our self-worth on others,” recent essay for NBC News’ Know Your Value platform. “But, to be most comfortable in your own skin is to accept yourself, to like yourself. To me, this has been the hardest thing to do. With time, I am beginning to realize that I can choose to elevate my self-confidence and self-acceptance or knock it down. For me, seeing it as a choice is crucial and it's a choice I have to consciously make every day.”
She acknowledges that there will still be ups and downs when it comes to feeling confident about her appearance. But she is determined to always return to a place of self-acceptance.
“There are days that I wish I had two normal legs,” she said on TODAY, “but the difference is I am owning who I am now.”