Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Misery Loves Company...

There are a couple of young ladies I talk to every so often regarding their skin, and they are at that age where the world seems to be on your shoulders and nobody could possibly know what you’re going through… yes, they are teenagers.

Considering I was once one of those myself, I figure at my ripe old age of 24, I can muster up a decent amount of memories about my own teenage years to share some advice with them… Except that a lot of the time, I sit there in shock and am thinking: Oh my God… Is this how hard it is to be a teenager these days, let alone a teenager with Vitiligo? How did I ever get through it?!

We all know I had my fair share of name-calling – Spot, Dalmatian, Cow – but nothing prepared me to hear that one young lady was called a zebra bitch or that another had a fake tan gone wrong. There was even cruelty to the extent of the following comment:

Why does she even bother to come outside? She should hide herself away with that skin…

It seemed like nothing for me to go through it, it was my version of ‘normal’ at the time, but looking at these beautiful young girls and hearing them recite the horrible things that have been said to them was a huge slap in the face because I couldn’t do anything to protect them from that…

Bullying is a serious issue that still isn’t given the attention it deserves. Words can be just as hurtful as physical blows - you have no idea. I know of relationships where physical harm could never match the emotional and verbal abuse that was dealt. What scares me the most in speaking with these girls is knowing that in an effort to diminish the bullying they are suffering, or to fit in, they might go ahead and allow themselves to be encouraged to do wrong things, especially at this vulnerable age where you’re already trying to figure yourself out. Especially when others around you are doing the same.

Vitiligo is just one more weakness to add to the mix when you are a teenager. Unfortunately, many bullies will use this to their advantage, and, no matter how confident you are, or how comfortable you are in your skin, comments about it will always sting just a little. Enough harassment over the issue and you could easily be swayed to do something hurtful to yourself, your reputation or someone else in order to just be like everyone around you.

My biggest concern is those among us that have the power to influence someone in our lives and the way they treat others. We all have brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, friends’ children and godchildren even, who look up to and often look to us for examples of how to treat others. Let them know when they are wrong, teach them not to discriminate… 

Lead by example. 

Bullies are insecure creatures. And they know who they are…  
Deal with your own insecurity. Don’t try to make company for your misery by bringing others down. Don’t comment on another person’s misfortunes in a negative manner and not expect a young person to hear you or adopt the same attitude. We have a lot more power than we think that can influence others.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Source of Inspiration...

Last night, I was watching the Oscars. At certain points of the awards show, there were some intense emotions. The first being Mo’nique’s win for her supporting actress role - in the movie Precious - and the honesty and humility in her speech. But even more emotional for me was finding out that the most talented hairstylist I know and have also had the pleasure of working with at Fashion Week was actually responsible for more than one of the phenomenal hairstyles seen at the awards, including Cameron Diaz.

To say that I am proud to know you Omar Lopez is an understatement. To know that I had the chance to work with you and then to sit in my living room watching your work on some of the world’s most powerful entertainers sparked such respect and admiration within me because I’m sure this is a dream come true for you… And you’ve sparked a new dream for me as well after watching that. What makes it even more wonderful, as I have already told you, is knowing how beautiful you are as a person as well.

And this is where I get to the point of this post. I realized that I know, or have been in the presence of so many talented, driven and truly inspiring people. I know a lot of people who are working to make their dreams come true every day. The truth is, we all do. You don’t have to look very far and it doesn’t have to be fashion or Hollywood, but around you and within you there is inspiration to make your dreams reality. And it doesn’t matter where you came from, what you went through or what you look like… you might have Vitiligo… so what? I’m sure you have a dream, and believe me, that dream is far bigger than your skin or your skin colour. Which is only as important as you make it.

So… cut away the dead weight. Cut away the things or people in your life who have made you feel like you weren’t good enough, strong enough, smart enough or good-looking enough to do something you wanted to do. Cut away the thoughts that the way you look can stop you from being or having anything you want.  Cut away the men, or women, who judge you by your skin and have you thinking that you are unworthy of a successful and loving relationship because of it.

We all have inspiring people around us, the people who push us, and who have kept us going when we thought we couldn’t anymore… and the people whose successes make you hungry for more success of your own. Be grateful for them, appreciate them and keep them around you. They give you strength that boosts you when you’re not too sure how to feel about yourself or your capabilities.  And know that you are good enough.

That’s my point. 
You are good enough.