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Reclaiming What It Means to Feel Beautiful as a Medically Complex Teen

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I felt like I was hiding all the time. Your self image wears thin when you’re under the impression that you have to spare the world from the reality of your existence.

It wasn’t what I wanted, so I just decided to stop believing who I am is something to be ashamed of.

I’m pretty medically complex; a lot of my body has failed me. I’ve slept through a lot of my life, but wow, do I ever appreciate my moments of wakefulness.

It’s hard to learn to love your body time and time again after it’s failed you, but it’s possible. I’m starting to embrace my flaws and seek beauty in my differences. I no longer hide that which keeps me alive, no matter how strange it may appear to the outside world. Every day has an opportunity to educate the world or at least show one person they have something to offer to it.

As I collect every new scar, tube, line and device, I must learn again to appreciate them as a step forward as opposed to a setback, something that adds to me rather than detracts. My disabilities and conditions are an integral part of the person I have become, but they by no means define me. Only I can decide how I want to be known, but I must first muster up the bravery to want to be seen. No one is meant to live their lives in the shadows. 

I just did the most nerve-wracking photo shoot of my life.

From trembling lips I said “Here I am world,” and I’m ready to take it by storm.

hailey showing her feeding tube
Photo by Hailey Remigio
hailey laying on her back
Photo by Hailey Remigio
hailey showing IV
Photo by Hailey Remigio
hailey laying on top of pill bottles
Photo by She Will Photgraphy
meme with words i know this transformation is painful but you're not falling apart; you're just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful by william c. hannan
Photo by Hailey Remigio

Follow this journey on Hailey’s Healing Story: Your World Through My Eyes.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to your teenaged self when you were struggling to accept your differences. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: April 9, 2016
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