No one should be judged or treated differently because of their physical appearance.
Unfortunately, that was something that Ilka Brühl faced with. due to her rare condition, ectodermal dysplasia. The German born girl had a difficult time in school, enduring name-calling and even fantasizing about becoming invisible so as to end the torture.
Fortunately, Ilka decided to use her pain and experiences as a platform for helping others learn how to respect one another. Now 30 years old, Ilka is a model, published author, speaker, and creator of an inspiring podcast series.
Ilka Brühl was born on January 1992 seemingly perfectly healthy. A few days later she was rushed into surgery due to blocked airways in her nose, revealing that she was different in some way.
When Ilka went to school there were other kids who did not understand her and taunted her for looking unusual. But despite that, little Ilka refused to give up, stood up for herself and embraced what made her unique.
“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.
Ilka was a beautiful young girl, but she endured consistent bullying at school. The other kids dubbed her with names like “Freak,” “Alien,” and “Pig Nose.” Despite the cruelty of her peers, Ilka’s parents ensured she felt comfortable in her own skin. However, as she entered puberty, they couldn’t protect her from the marketing machine that dictated conventional beauty standards. These messages compounded Ilka’s self-doubt, leading her to feel ashamed of showing her face in public.
Fortunately, despite all this hurt and humiliation, Ilka didn’t let it stop her from being successful. She pushed forward and ended up graduating high school with straight A’s. Ten surgeries later, Ilka found herself slowly learning how to accept herself and challenging toxic societal norms. This newfound courage inspired her to become an example for others facing similar struggles on the path to self-love.
When Ilka was 20 years old, she decided to undergo nose correction surgery for medical reasons. However, she soon realized that beauty cannot be determined based on appearance and underwent a change of perspective.
Instead of undergoing more surgeries, she learned to accept herself the way she was and focused on expanding her outlook. She hosted a successful podcast and has since published a book by the same title: Differently Beautiful – How I Learned To Love Myself. Ilka’s now spreading her message of self-love through her social media platforms, encouraging others to embrace their own uniqueness without judgement.
Recently, Ilka has been working on a children’s book in which she shares photos of her younger self. She speaks out in hopes of inspiring others to embrace their individuality and remind those with disabilities they should be accepted into the world.
In 2018, Ilka starred in Project Grenzenlos and has since gone on to do much more modelling work – she looks better than ever!
On top of this, Ilka found true love and tied the knot with her now-husband Philip earlier last year; it was reported that they looked incredibly happy together. Ilka expresses that being able to call somebody her husband is “a great privilege”, reminding us all to appreciate the ones we love.