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My experience with sectoral heterochromia and body confidence by Olivia McHale, AKA @thenorthernist

When someone says the phrase ‘body confidence‘, what sort of image conjures up in your mind? For me, it’s a host of people in various sizes, because that’s what this phrase has come to mean: positivity surrounding different body sizes. While that’s absolutely brilliant and in no way a bad thing, we seem to forget that ‘body’ could relate to absolutely anything to do with the human form. It doesn’t have to be entirely about size.

From the moment I was born, there was something different about my appearance. It wasn’t anything major or super noticeable unless you were up close, but it was always there – and still is to this day.

Despite the scary-sounding name ‘sectoral heterochromia’, it isn’t that terrifying. Sectoral heterochromia is a genetic mutation in the eye that causes two separate colours within the same iris. This is a defect that I actually can’t see unless I look in the mirror.

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If you look at the image above, you can see that the outer edge of my right eye is darker than the inner – that’s my brown slice of sectoral heterochromia. I kind of forget it’s there until someone points it out as it doesn’t affect my vision and it doesn’t hurt – it’s just a purely cosmetic thing, but it caused me quite a few problems growing up.

Growing up, it was something that was quite an issue for other people. Kids pick on other kids for the most stupid reasons, and one of those was my ‘weird’ eye colour. The perfect slice of brown in my otherwise stony blue eyes really seemed to bother the other children in my class.

I remember trying to build up my body confidence in primary school by telling the people in my class that I had magic powers, but this sort of wore off as more and more people picked up on this unusual thing about my appearance. I got called a ‘mutant’ in secondary school and people would ask if I’d been abused or had acid thrown at me. It got to a point where I actually wanted to laser my eyes to full blue, just so I could fit in.

After years of hearing that your eyes are weird and ugly, you kind of start to believe it. I would try to avoid eye contact with people and had my hair cut into a side fringe to try and cover it. I was so self-conscious about it and felt that this tiny blemish, that was pretty much invisible at a glance, was making me so unattractive. That was until I discovered makeup during university.

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Of course, I didn’t grab the reins straight away and go all out with colour because I was still lacking the self-confidence to try and be bold with my eyes. I started small and learned how to apply liquid eyeliner, how to use my naturally thick brows as a frame, and which kind of mascara I thought flattered my eyes the most.

Through all of this experimenting, I started to fall in love with my sectoral heterochromia and tried to find ways to accentuate it instead of hiding it (like with all eye colours, research into colour theory is key)!

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Fast forward to the age of 25: I’ve been transformed from an “I hate my eyes” type of person to a shout-it-from-the-rooftops “I freaking love my eyes” person. They’re actually my favourite feature, and I always feel kind of cool when someone makes a comment about them.

I’m a world away from the nasty comments in school now, and the usual thing that people say to me is how incredible my eyes are, or that they’ve never seen eyes like mine before. It sounds a bit big-headed, but honestly, I feel super unique and beautiful, so there’s no way I’m letting a laser near my eyes now.

Body confidence should be celebrated in all its forms, whether you absolutely love your curves or your unusual eye colour. While it’s easier said than done, we should all shout about the things we love about ourselves, no matter how small or insignificant you might think other people will find them. Be unapologetically you!


Olivia McHale runs The Northernist, a beauty, baking and lifestyle blog. She is based in Middlesbrough and has an MA in Multimedia Journalism.

Follow Olivia on Twitter here, and check out her website here.