The moment we learn how to love ourselves with all our flaws is the moment we really start to live our lives to the fullest.

Being born with a condition that distinguishes us from the rest of the world can be extremely challenging, and many people go through such struggles. The thing is that different doesn’t mean less worthy or less beautiful, and the moment we experience that enlightenment and realize we are perfect the way we are everything changes for the better.

When Ilka Brühl was welcomed into the world, her parents knew she could experiences a hard time in life because of her cleft nose and lips, a rare genetic disorder that affects one’s facial structure. They were, however, determined to teach her how to love herself, something she needed time to learn.

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Instagram/ilkabruehl

Today, this young woman is 30 years of age and is taking many people’s breath away.

Over the years, Ilka has undergone a number of procedures to help her with her condition, and although she looks stunning today, she did experience a really hard time when she was young. She couldn’t make friends easily because she was teased and bullied all the time. The rest of the students called her names such as “Freak,” “Alien,” or “Pig Nose” and never wanted to play with her.

Although she was still just a child, she was aware she was different.

“At first I thought: How else am I supposed to look like? That’s how I am! But then I consciously looked in the mirror and realized that my nose is different. Then you start questioning yourself,” she told German newspaper Kurier.

Instagram/ilkabruehl

“As a child, I often had eye infections because my tear duct was not developed, and headaches because my paranasal sinuses were very susceptible to moisture,” Ilka said.

“But I was always able to live with the symptoms.”

She added: “My parents always gave me the feeling that I was right the way I was. As a child, I could confidently counter stupid sayings or looks. Nevertheless, the question came up during puberty: ‘If I’m supposed to be so normal – why don’t you see people like me anywhere?’”

When she reached her teenage years, Ilka developed even more self-doubt. It wasn’t just the people at school who made her feel that way, but the commercials and magazines that always portray perfectly looking women as a standard of beauty.

She tried changing things about the way she felt about herself by being the best student at school, all straight A’s.

Instagram/ilkabruehl

At the age of 20, Ilka underwent one of her many procedures. It was a nose correction surgery, but this time, something was different. Once everything was done, something clicked in her.

“As soon as the wounds had healed, I noticed the next blemish. At that moment I realized: Beauty cannot be created on the operating table,” Ilka told BILD.

“For me, [beauty] is all about appearance. If you accept yourself, then you can shine from within and that’s nicer than the most perfect person who doesn’t like themselves.”

She knew that what she needed weren’t more surgeries, but acceptance by her own self. “I approached people more openly and learned to like myself. And noticed: The others don’t withdraw from me at all, I withdraw from them!”

In 2014, she had her first photoshoot.

“On the way to [the photographer], I was on the verge of turning around several times because I was so terrified that she would laugh at me when she saw me in real life,” she wrote, as reported by Insider.

“Being in front of the camera has shown me: Every defect and every mistake is a part of you, and that’s okay too. You just have to make the most of it,” she added.

She released a podcast which focused on how she handles her self-doubt. She also shared tips on how to love yourself. Ilka is a published author as well. Her book Differently Beautiful – How I Learned to Love Myself has helped many achieve what she did.

Instagram/ilkabruehl

Some four years ago, she and a couple of friends started Project Grenzenlos, which can be translated to Project Limitless. The campaign’s purpose is to highlight the beauty of those who live with deformities and other differences. For this beautiful brave woman, it aligns with her perception of beauty.

On Instagram, she wrote: “I think EVERYBODY is beautiful in his own way,. I often read comments like ‘You are not pretty just because you’re different,’ [and] that’s totally right! I am pretty because EVERYBODY is pretty. Never mind if you are a classic beauty, tall, small, stout, thin, black, white.”

She’s never afraid to speak openly about her journey towards self-acceptance because she is aware she changes other people’s lives that way.

“I decided to show a baby photo of me. Because you see my ‘defect’ there better. Furthermore, I get many direct messages with the question of why I look like I do,” she wrote.

“At first, I hesitated because some of you think that’s too much. But that is wrong, it should be as normal as every other baby picture.”

“Everyone who knows me can confirm that it is really important for me and that I want to help others. Want to help the ones with some defects, as well as the parents of babies who are afraid if their child will be accepted in the world.”

Last year, she tied the knot with husband Philip and described it as a magical moment and the happiest day of her life.

“The wedding itself was indescribably beautiful for me. When I woke up the next day, I couldn’t believe how great everything went,” Ilka wrote.

“Sunny weather, everyone was in a good mood and my husband (still want to say friend) looked so amazing. I was so emotional and shed so many tears. Loving someone so much is a great privilege and I am infinitely grateful for it. I’m so looking forward to everything that’s to come. I just can’t believe how lucky I am to be able to call such a great person my husband now.”

Ilka is the perfect example that one doesn’t need to be perfect in terms of appearance in order to be a perfect human being.

She is touching many lives. Her successful modeling career is a reminder that one should never stop chasing their dreams.

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