MY STORY: Riana Botha


I am the eldest of four children and the only one who was blessed with a port wine stain.

As a result of the birthmark, I suffer from glaucoma in one eye, but other than that I’m as normal as any other 29-year-old woman.

I have nomemory of being teased at school as a little girl as I had too many friends, but I obviously had people asking why I looked the way I did, and thanks to my family, I knew exactly how to answer any curious minds.

I remember asking my mother what she thought when she saw me for the first time and I could see she was sad to tell me that she was heartbroken, not because of the way I looked, but because she knew that I’d have to fight harder to get what I wanted in life because people judge others by the way they look. As I am a mom myself, I can imagine what she felt. In those days not a lot of people knew what this birthmark was and my mom recalls a lot of tests were done on me.

The first time I noticed I was different from other children was when I reached my teen years and started noticing boys, but I was a normal teen, and went dancing and clubbing with friends like a normal teen would.

Today I walk around with my head held high, although I don’t leave the house without make-up, but I’m sure lots of women would agree that they don’t either!

Riana without make-up

My love for make-up started a long time ago when I applied my first batch of stage make-up. When I saw the make-up covered my birthmark, and experienced the way it made me feel, I decided then and there I’d become a make-up artist. I completed my make-up course in 2002 and since then I’ve been helping women all over South Africa feel beautiful.

Riana's daughter

I have a successful business that I run with my sister, René Bester, and I’m the mom of a wonderful little girl, Mia-Mari, for whom I try to set an example of how to be proud of who you are. I also have an amazing husband, Hennie, who loves me. I’m a very lucky woman!

Riana and her husband Hennie

I hope that other people who live with a stain like mine will draw some inspiration from my story and I hope they’ll start spending time with people who love them for who they are. I work with celebrities and models almost daily and I’ve never met anyone who’s treated me differently, because I don’t allow them to.

I hope my story shows that with hard work and by believing in yourself, whether you have a birthmark, albinism, or any kind of facial disfigurement, you can live with it, and have the right to live and make your mark in the world!

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