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10. So Marika Nagy of Manchester, England has a few birthmarks. Actually, she’s pretty much covered with them. And school bullies were relentless in calling her a cow and saying she was splattered with mud. But Marika has shaken off those nasty comments and now embraces her unusual birthmarks, which cover about 60 percent of her body. She is hoping to show other girls that it’s those differences among them that make them beautiful, and are nothing to be ashamed of. Says Marika, “It’s taken me 19 years, but I finally love who I am.”
9. A lot of young girls have self-image concerns about having thick eyebrows. My daughter was definitely one of them. But 17-year-old Puerto Rican Natalia Castellar, who was teased as a youngster, is now proud of her heavy eyebrows. Well, she should be, since she is now a model for NARS and Mansur Gavriel, and she recently finished paperwork for a contract with NEXT models. Hmmmm… not a bad deal for having that little… difference.
8. Model Khoudia Diop of New York had to endure a lot of bullying growing up because of her extremely dark skin tone. Along with the terrible bullying, she was also, unfortunately, the target of racism. She confronted those bullies at the time, but, as time passed, she grew to love herself more and more, and not pay any attention to the negative people. Khoudia says that how you look doesn’t matter, as long as you feel beautiful on the inside.
7. Stephanie Thompson was a skinny little girl growing up in England and had to endure all the taunts and name-calling from bullies. She even had to drop out of college because some of those same bullies from school were there. But Stephanie’s grandmother gave her the confidence to pursue a career in modeling. Today, she is with the Liverpool agency Impact Models and Models Manchester. Hey, grammaw always knows best.
6. Victoria Thornewell was called ugly in school and for years was the target of many cruel taunts. After school, she won a beauty pageant. Then she started body-building after seeing a show about it on TV. She did a strict gym plan for 19 weeks then became the champion in UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation, winning the Junior Bikini Fitness crown. Among her supporters were many who just stood quietly by as she was being bullied in school, and Victoria even asked them, “Where were you when people were calling me ugly?” And I think she has all the right in the world to ask that.
5. Phoebe Cesinaro of Ontario, Canada, wanted to be her school’s first transgender cheerleader. There was a lot of bullying, especially since just two years earlier Phoebe had been Christopher. But Phoebe wanted to push through all that negativity and make a difference. She failed at her first two tryouts for cheerleader, but eventually made the squad. And whatever negativity was brought by some of the athletes, all of them are friends now… and they even watch out for her… like a big brother.
4. Bailey Pretak, of Wilcox, Pennsylvania, was born with Lamellar ichthyosis, a disorder which causes her skin to constantly crack and shed. Children used to cruelly mock her and make fun of her scaly skin. But Bailey, who has to use moisturizing creams all the time, turned to acting, singing and dancing for a more positive outlook on life. A few years ago, she started entering beauty pageants and won the titles of Miss Pennsylvania, Ultimate Queen and Miss Congeniality. Bailey is now traveling to raise awareness for the skin disorder.
3. Psoriasis is a very painful skin condition that causes red patches on parts of the body. Giorgia Lanuzza suffers from this, with 97 percent of her body covered with it. She spent years covering her body and hiding her condition from others. Schoolmates and boyfriends avoided touching her because they thought it was contagious… it’s not, by the way. She was so self-conscious about it that it was ruining her life. But now Georgia is proudly donning skimpy clothing and embracing her body, to prove that this condition does not make her any less beautiful. I would have to agree.
2. Mui Thomas sheds more skin in one night than most of us do in a two-week period. She suffers from harlequin ichthyosis, which leaves her skin raw and prone to infection. Not only did she have to deal with school bullies, but the cyber bullying was even more terrifying, because those people could be anonymous and hide their identities behind fake names. Mui works as a rugby referee and tries to raise awareness to others of the devastating impact bullying can have. Her parents, Rog and Tina, give motivational talks at schools and have written a book called: “The Girl Behind the Face.”
1. How would you like to be called: The Ugliest Person in the World. Lizzie Velasquez was called just that and it put her in a very dark place for a long time. It was one of thousands of other terrible online comments aimed at her looks, with some even telling her to kill herself. Lizzie, of Texas, was born with neonatal progeroid syndrome. It affects her face, muscle tone, brian, heart, eyes and bones and keeps her from gaining normal weight. She was bullied because of her looks from as far back as she can remember. But somehow she found the strength to put a positive outlook on her life and wanted to share it with others. So a documentary was made on Lizzie’s life, called “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story.” It was released in 2015 and has won several awards. Says Lizzie: “There is a light on the other side of being bullied and if I was able to find it … I hope you can also find it.”
If there are any young ladies out there watching this who doesn’t like her looks or doesn’t like her weight or looks in the mirror and can only see what’s bad about them, please remember that everyone is different, and being different should never be a bad thing. It really should be a good thing. Always find the positive in who you are because, with that, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.
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