Young woman born with rare facial defect is pursuing successful modeling career

No one should be subjected to unfair treatment based on their physical appearance.

Imagine being labeled as “Freak,” “Alien,” or “Pig Nose” at the age of 16, and experiencing rejection from classmates who refused to play with you, while enduring ridicule and finger-pointing from others.

Ilka Brühl, a German teenager, was subjected to such atrocities on a daily basis, an experience that most of us have never witnessed.


Ilka was born with cleft lips and nose due to ectodermal dysplasia, a rare genetic condition that impacts facial structure.

She lived with the deformity for an extended period before undergoing surgery to rectify it.

However, she eventually came to the realization that her deformity had no bearing on her appearance. Ilka discovered that surgery could not create beauty, and learned to embrace her appearance as it was.

Ilka is now a source of inspiration for millions of people worldwide and desires to make a positive impact through her work.


Ilka Brühl’s parents believed that their baby was completely healthy until she was born in January 1992. However, doctors noticed that the infant was having trouble breathing. It was later discovered that the airways in her nose were obstructed, causing the issue.

Emergency surgery was required to repair her cleft palate, and it became apparent that something was not quite right with young Ilka.

School can be a challenging environment for many young people across the globe, and unfortunately, Ilka understood this all too well. Despite her somewhat distinctive features, the children at her school failed to recognize that she was just like everyone else.

According to reports, fellow students at her school made fun of her appearance and subjected her to ridicule.

Despite her beauty, the bullies at school were merciless towards her, labeling her as “Freak,” “Alien,” or “Pig Nose,” and shunning her from their activities.


As she grew older, Ilka’s self-doubt worsened, not just because of her school experiences, but also due to the pervasive influence of advertising on television. Advertisements from companies constantly promoted specific social ideals of beauty, and Ilka felt as though she did not fit into any of those standards. Consequently, she felt ashamed to show her face, believing it to be more embarrassing than being naked.

Despite facing hurtful comments at school, Ilka refused to let anyone get the best of her. She excelled academically and achieved the highest grades in her class, earning her the status of an A-student.

Ilka had difficulty making friends due to her low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence.


After undergoing 10 procedures, Ilka struggled to accept herself, but eventually began to see improvement. She realized that she was just as valuable as anyone else and transformed into a confident woman who aspired to serve as a role model for others.

In 2014, everything changed for Ilka when she was on her way to her first photoshoot.

She admitted to being on the brink of turning back several times on her way to the photoshoot because she was so scared that the photographer would laugh at her upon seeing her in person, as she wrote.

Being in front of the camera has taught her that every imperfection and mistake is a part of who she is, and that it’s okay. She concluded that all she has to do is embrace it and make the most of it.

When Ilka was 20 years old, she had nose surgery primarily for medical reasons, but she also hoped that the procedure would eventually help her gain the confidence to love herself.

However, things took a different turn after the procedure.

Instead of undergoing more procedures, Ilka realized that there were other ways to enhance her appearance. It was not about being perceived as “normal,” but about learning to accept herself better.

Ilka acknowledged that she had a unique appearance, but she chose to embrace it as a positive aspect of herself. She realized that accepting her uniqueness was key to her self-acceptance. As a result, she aimed to inspire and help others accept themselves for who they are by sharing her own experiences and struggles.

Brühl created a podcast to share her own strategies for coping with self-doubt and to provide guidance on developing self-love. Additionally, she authored a book titled “Differently Beautiful: How I Learned to Love Myself.”


Ilka Brühl and her friends started Project Grenzenlos in 2018, which means “Project Limitless” in English. The initiative aims to celebrate the beauty of individuals with deformities or other differences, aligning with Brühl’s perspective on 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.”

Ilka shares her story, as well as personal reflections, on her blog and Instagram. Recently, she finished writing a children’s book, and she has also shared several pictures of herself as a child on her social media.

Ilka decided to share a photo of herself as a newborn because it shows her imperfection more clearly. She also receives numerous direct messages inquiring about her appearance, she revealed on her blog and Instagram.

At first, Ilka was hesitant to share a newborn picture of herself, as some people thought it was too much. However, she believes it’s just like any other newborn photo and it’s important to her.

She wants to help others who have flaws, as well as parents who worry about their children’s acceptance in the world. She shared in a Facebook post that everyone who knows her can confirm how crucial this is for her.

Since the launch of Project Grenzenlos in 2018, Ilka has taken on more modeling jobs and looks amazing.

Ilka has become an influential role model to many due to her inspiring journey, and people worldwide can follow her on social media, where she has amassed over 33,000 followers on Instagram.

Not only has she become a role model for others, but she has also embraced her unique appearance and found love in her husband, Philip, whom she married last year. Ilka shared a photo of herself in her wedding dress on Instagram, and the couple seems to be enjoying their time together.

Despite imperfections or disabilities, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.