Big ears, short legs, body fat, bald spot, big nose, crooked smile - whatever the flaw, let's face it, we all have them. And if you think [freaks of nature] super models don't, think again. Chances are those mega beauties have stories of growing up the gangly, awkward girl, being called "giraffe", or "big foot".
It’s hard to relate to anyone who makes a living off their good looks, let alone imagine they could have a history of being picked on as kids. So let’s get back to people like us – everyday folk - who have a beauty all our own, shall we?
No matter what our age, name calling does damage. As we mature and grow in to ourselves, we learn to accept our unique flaws as part of what makes us who we are. We realize how exhausting it is to try and change things that are simply not in the cards – so, although our feelings may still be hurt, those words begin to carry less weight. We learn that we are not defined or validated by what other people think of us. What other people think of us is none of our business.
But when we’re young and vulnerable, being on the receiving end of name calling feels like daggers in our hearts.
The Elephant Man.
You name it, I heard it. And even after years of therapy and countless surgeries to remedy the scarring on my face, I am still haunted by those names I was called as a teenager in high school.
In watching Oprah’s interview with Lady Gaga and Mama Gaga last night, I learned about the Born This Way foundation, a marvelous cause in which the only goal is to help people realize they are beautiful – no matter who they are, how they look, or what anyone says. Their mission statement reads:
To foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated. The Foundation is dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a braver, kinder world.
The 70s gave us Ziggy Stardust through David Bowie, and Elton John showcased platform-shoe-glittered-star-glasses fashion.
This generation, we have Gaga.
I was surprised to learn Gaga was bullied as a child. She has memories of being grabbed by school mates and thrown in a garbage can in public. Of this incident, she tells Oprah – “those moments create emotional scars – you carry them with you forever”.
As tears trickled down my perfectly flawed cheeks, I never thought I’d feel it - a sense of connectivity with the extravagant singer. She gets it.
After landing on the Born This Way Foundation website, I entered my name as a supporter. What a powerful wave to ride, knowing that we can join such a mission of kindness and compassion.
It may not be realistic to envision a world without Hate, but it sure does feel good to know that by joining the cause to try, we can make a difference.
“Whether life's disabilities left you outcast, bullied or teased - rejoice and love yourself today, 'cause baby, you were born this way” - Lady Gaga