Recently, I came across an article on Facebook called "Horrible Disease: 64-Year-Old Woman Covered in Benign Tumors". Intrigued and interested in the article on Neurofibromatosis, I clicked the link and was soon blasted with people's ignorance and hurtful comments. The article itself said that this woman was "once beautiful" and that statement really made me think. Why was she once beautiful? Is she no longer beautiful because of the tumors covering her face? Is she no longer beautiful because she doesn't meet what society's "standard" of beauty is? The ideal body has always been some form of "slim", with a face with prominent cheek bones and big eyes. In order for a female to go into the modeling industry they have to be 5'6-5'11 and weigh between 90-120 lbs... meaning the standards of beauty have been unrealistically set. WHY is this society's standard? Why are we so focused on physicality when there is so much more than appearance to human nature? Why are we judging this lady based on her physical assets?
After reading the article and watching the video, for some reasons I decided to scroll down and read some of the comments posted, hoping that I might be able to discover more people in the NF community that I could network with. Unfortunately, I found nothing but ignorance and cruelty. I read through the comments, keeping track of two different things:
1. Hurtful comments
2. Comments that encompassed compassion, empathy and kindness
I was shocked when the number of cruel comments completely outnumbered those of kindness and compassion. My heart physically hurt... why are people so cruel?...I kept asking myself. How does this benefit someone? I've debated about posting some of these comments below, but I'm not going to because I want this to be a place of positivity where people feel safe, I don't want any attention to be drawn to the negative aspects of social media.
After sitting in front of my computer for well over half an hour trying to think of something to say to these people who were making awful comments, I came up with nothing. Nothing that I say will change their perspective, nothing that I can say will make them less ignorant or less demeaning. I don't need to start a war on Facebook to make change, because I want the change to start here.
For so long, I strove to be the girl who fit society's definition of beauty. I wanted to feel like I fit in. If I looked like I was supposed to, people would like me... right?! After trying for so long to "fit in" I realized that I wasn't doing something right. I needed to make a change. I came to the realization that I can try my very hardest to fit that cliche beauty standard, but there would ALWAYS be someone out there who disapproved, or thought I could be better. I asked myself why I cared what other people thought of me and I came up with nothing.... why should I care what people think? As long as I am happy with me, then shouldn't everyone else simply accept that?
Now, the point of this post was not to highlight the cruelty of some people or to bring shame to this article. The point of this blog is to provide one thing to anyone reading: courage. Now, courage sounds all great and mighty but it requires us to let go of what other people think of us. It requires us to act boldly, to be brave, and dive into a web of self-acceptance. Courage isn't something you'll wake up one day with, or develop over a week. Courage is an ever evolving concept, where our vulnerability is made visible to everyone, and I believe that once we let go of what other people think of us, we gain more insight into our own self worth ... THAT is when we will start to make change in the NF community. We don't need to retaliate on social media, we just need to show people that regardless of what they think or say, we will still always love ourselves. In the end, that's all that matters... right?
Have a wonderful week everyone, try and say something positive to yourself and one other person today!