Learning to Embrace My 'Beauty With a Twist' as a Woman With Craniofacial Differences

I was born with three very rare craniofacial conditions: VATERS syndrome, hemifacial microsomnia syndrome, and Goldenhar syndrome. These syndromes caused me to be born with several facial and bodily deformities, and I’ve had 101 surgeries in my life.

Growing up and having such a rare condition, I rarely saw anyone who looked at all like me. My difference was so obvious and made me feel self-conscious. I constantly felt like I didn’t fit in. I always compared myself to other girls I would see in school, magazines, and TV shows, and because my beauty didn’t look like theirs I felt ashamed. Instead of embracing my difference, I did everything in my power to hide it. In my mind, I just wanted to be “normal.”

Nevertheless, I came to a point in my life where I grew tired of rejecting and hiding my difference. I was sick of trying to fit in when I knew I wasn’t ever going to be “normal.” Deep down inside, I knew that even though I didn’t have a face like everyone else, there was something beautiful about me. I just needed to figure out a way to find it — and that’s exactly what I did.

I began to change my outlook, no longer seeing myself as the girl with no ear or a crooked face, but a girl with something unique. In making the conscious decision to accept who I am, I began to find purpose in my difference. Instead of dismissing my difference, I began to embrace it. I began to refer to myself as a “Beauty With a Twist.” I came to the realization that although my face isn’t typical, it is beautiful and my beauty is worth sharing with the world.

I call myself an advocate now, for all the other Beauties With a Twist, fighting against low self-esteem in young women, especially those who are different. Knowing all too well the battle with low-self-esteem, I strive to encourage every girl near and far to have confidence. It’s OK to be you, and it’s OK to embrace your difference. The day I decided to accept my difference was the day I let my beauty change the world!

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