25 October 2012

Success is loving our true beauty. (The I Heart My Body post)

"The most unique parts of you will eventually be the ones that lead you to greatness"
~ The New Normal

As you may have read or heard previously, when I was young, all I wanted was to fit in. I wanted to take a giant eraser to my skin - the redness, the scale, the soreness, and just make it white. Or black. Or brown, which I may be without Ichthyosis. Any colour but red. Any colour.

When I was five I told my best friend I that I wanted to be a doctor. To help other people like me. He told me that I would have to chop all my skin off before I become a doctor. And then he chewed my Barbie's hairbrush. Fast forward 10 years later and a girl I considered a school friend told me if I wanted to enter Dolly's Model of the Year contest, I would have to bleach my skin. (Ironic that both of these suggestions of drastically changing my appearance would bring me more pain than if I just endured my natural appearance.) When I was 20, someone with Ichthyosis told me I only got an academic scholarship and a graduate job because people felt sorry for me. It seemed, to others, my skin was either gong to hold back or falsify my success.

I wondered whether I would have to "chop my skin off" for any occupation? I wondered if I could really be myself to succeed in any occupation, or academic or social pursuit.

People change their appearance as a means of striving for success all the time. Magazines and advertising tell us success is flawless skin. Success is a flat tummy. It's fitting into skimpy bathers two weeks after giving birth. Success is fake hair and nails and lips and foreheads that do not move. It's a dandruff-free scalp and meal replacement shakes. Success is teeth whiter than heaven, done in a lunchbreak. It's a hairless body and a fake tan. Success is looking like a different version of ourselves. How can this be happiness?

It's funny how things work out. At 30 years old, I feel successful. My success has been because of my natural appearance. Success has come in the form of writing, speaking and TV work. And more friends than I thought I'd ever have. I can't believe I have built a media career on stories about my appearance. I can't believe I have been photographed by a high profile fashion photographer.

I can believe I have defied those who thought my appearance would hold me back from success. I do still feel I have to work harder to win people over so they feel more comfortable with my redness, but I feel I have been able to impress more people with my experience and outgoing nature than ever before. The most unique part of me certainly has lead me to a great life.

About a month ago I had dinner with a very lovely boy I had met the previous week. He asked me if he could add me on Facebook when we were at the dinner table. I used his phone to find my name, and he requested me as a friend. My personal Facebook page has quite strict security settings. Before I accepted his friend request, he scrolled down through my limited profile. Only my limited profile was not so limited. And he saw the Instagram filtered version of this photo (the one on Facebook is not airbrused, just sepia).
Taken before I went surfing with Layne. I am pretty proud of this photo. It's not often I wear such few clothes for the camera - or ever - I am usually wearing many layers. And I quite like my body - I have a great hourglass figure and I am petite. I'm really short which I also like. Those $8 bathers are so flattering too.

"Hello!," he said, with a gorgeous broad smile on his face. Then he zoomed in. Gosh, we'd known each other a week, and I rather like him, but he had seen so much of me already. In my bathers. Boobs and legs. Boobs and legs. Oh god!

I was mortified. But loving the compliment at the same time. I don't need a man to validate my appearance. But when he did, it felt good. Especially when he really doesn't know me very well and likes what he saw, and when many other people are so quick to judge my apprarance negatively. And he still wants to hang out with me now. That makes me so happy.

I have friends that look Different who are not afraid to show their difference. They are proud of their bodies. They embrace their true beauty. They have beautiful personailities too. They love their bodies. They don't change themselves to conform to beauty ideals. They also use their difference for good (check out Cheryl's blog for some beautiful words about The Different, stereotypes and using difference for good.)

Ichthyosis was featured on Embarrassing Bodies last night. While raising awareness is good, it saddens me that this condition is labeled 'embarrassing'. Sensationalist exploitation. I did not watch it. I'd prefer it if no one watched it. This type of media only perpetuates the idea that different bodies and appearances are something to be ashamed about. And this body of mine, and others' with Ichthyosis, is something to be proud of, not embarrassed about. It overcomes adversity every day - physically and emotionally.

I strongly believe that success is loving our true beauty and being proud of our difference. It's realising that our uniqueness will amount to greatness, if we let it.

This post is for the I Heart My Body linkup. What do you love about your body?


72 comments:

  1. Hello beautiful! An amazing story, one that you continue to share and give to the world.

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  2. I met you once at our first Melbourne blogger's function, but felt too shy to approach you & let you know how much I admired your writing,

    And then we got to speak at the second function recently, & you are just ... as beautifully honest as your writing is.

    And ... you look spankin' in a cozzy!

    Don't change, & for the love of God, don't bleach that beautiful skin :)

    Cherie @ we heart life (& Raising Master Max)

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  3. Beautifully written, as always, Carly. Your "Unique Value Proposition" is truly unique, and it's not the condition of your skin, it's they way you own it and take on others' perceptions and break them down. It's funny how people all strive to be the same (fake tan, white teeth etc), when the beauty is usually found in the individual. I love your $8 cossie and you look fabulous in it. No wonder your guy stopped in his tracks ;)

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    1. Thank you so much for these lovely words Laney - they really made me smile.
      I love this cossie too and I want to wear it more!

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  4. "People change their appearance as a means of striving for success all the time. Magazines and advertising tell us success is flawless skin. Success is a flat tummy. It's fitting into skimpy bathers two weeks after giving birth. Success is fake hair and nails and lips and foreheads that do not move. It's a dandruff-free scalp and meal replacement shakes. Success is teeth whiter than heaven, done in a lunchbreak. It's a hairless body and a fake tan. Success is looking like a different version of ourselves. "

    This paragraph... Sums it all up. We are more then our bodies.

    Beautiful Carly.

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  5. Carly you have such an amazing story. You are so inspiring. And just quietly, an amazing body! $8 swimsuit, you did better then me! Mine was $20 from Kmart ;)

    x

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    1. Thanks so much Carly! Im not going to wear bathers much so why pay more?!

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  6. Beautifully written post. Other peoples words can be so harsh but it is lovely to great you have overcome all these things are love yourself the way you are. You do look amazing in your swimmers!

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    1. Hey Lisa thank you so much - I want to wear them everywhere!

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  7. This is so beautiful. Your words. Your meaning. Feeling. The picture. You. All of it. Thank you for sharing. I believe we were at a conference together (TypeA or BlogHer?) and I never got the chance to say hi, so - hey! :) I love this whole concept and think I might try to post, too!

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    1. Thank you so much - we were at BlogHer - glad you stopped by to say hi!

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  8. So inspiring Carly! What a special boy. And what a super gorgeous $8 bathing suit! xx

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  9. How could he not like you in that picture? Or any picture? You are gorgeous :)

    I saw that segment on TV last night, and only when it ended did I realise the show was Embarrassing Bodies! I thought of you as soon as I saw it, and thought it was quite a positive piece; raising awareness and highlighting the issues and struggles they went through but at the same time showing the perfectly normal life they can lead. It's just a shame that it was on a show with such a name, but watching it I didn't get the feeling they were trying to portray it as such. It was very interesting to see, nonetheless!

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  10. You look fabulous Carly. Go you!!
    Vicki
    www.shoppegirls.blogspot.com

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  11. Beautiful post Carly. Being different is what makes us beautiful. Rock on x

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  12. This post is incredible - one of these ones you speed read through the first time because your breath is taken away and then go back and re read super slowly, savouring the words and the heart behind it. Thank you, so much for sharing your story and being so honest

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  13. that's an $8 cossie? i am too seriously jealous … great words, too! xt

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  14. You do look smoking in that cozzie. What I've always noticed about you Carly, is your beautiful smile and sense of humour. You're lovely inside and out. I'm glad people notice that too. I don't heart my body. In a week or two I'll be having the insides especially delicate girlie parts stitched up and repaired. I'll never be able to do sit ups or lift more than 15 kg again. I feel my body has failed me. But hey, I'm 44 and had two kids, so I should be grateful I got this far, right? I think we all have our issues. It's our choice how we deal with them.
    I love the example of how you deal with yours. And how you show off your assets too!

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  15. Hello, indeed! You are so beautiful Carly!

    Cannot believe that swimsuit only cost $8! It looks amazing.

    xx

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    1. Hi Jane thank you so much - it's the est bargain ever!

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  16. This is what really gets me angry about things. I see it all across my job as well. Success is about how you look, and can I tell you, most of the people who made it into their roles because of their slender bodies and pretty blonde hair, are complete idiots with mothballs in their ears.

    I am so sorry that you have had to face all that hardship. But all that hardship has made you the brilliant beautiful person you are today. You look fantastic in your bargain swimming costume! I would be proud to have such a wonderful person like you on my arm.

    Thank you so much for linking up!

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  17. A beautifully expressed post Carly. You look amazing in your swimmers!

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  18. Wish I looked that good in $8 bathers :P

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  19. What I love about you is that you are you. Who the hell are you 'supposed' to be anyway. You can only ever truly be yourself. xx

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  20. I love this post! You have totally hit the nail on the head about what true beauty is. It's not about what we look like, or what we wear, it's about what we do and they way we live our lives and treat others. I can't believe those bathers were $8, I love them!

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  21. You have a wonderful story and great outlook.
    And I can't leave without saying you look amazing in that swimsuit.

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  22. What a beautifully written declaration of how proud you are of your body and the success it has brought you. Love it, Carly!

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  23. Fantastic post Carly! I could relate a lot when you mentioned working harder to help other people feel comfortable with your differences, I find myself doing that a lot when people ask how I am or what I do. It's a weird little extra thing, the needing to put in extra effort to be seen as a normal person and not just assumed about. I don't think it's good or bad, finding ways to educated people is always helpful, it just struck a chord when I read it and sent me off on a ramble... x

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  24. A freaking GREAT post. I agree with your new friend, woot woo.

    I was once told that I was submitted to represent my town for a 'Miss' type pageant but that the committee had decided that though I was pretty enough, I was still a bit too fat. Great! Excellent news for a girl in the grips eating disorder. People can be stupid. Sometimes. Full stop.

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  25. Aw, what a lovely story!! I hope he hangs around a bit longer ;) Thank you for sharing!

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  26. You are amazing, Carly. Keep rocking it!

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  27. I LOVE YOU!!! You are such a beautiful human being. Every post makes me happy to know that wonderful people like you exist in the world.

    I have to add that I watched the 'Embarrassing Bodies' show last night and I must disagree to an extent. I think instead of showing that our bodies are 'Embarrassing' they really try to normalise the conditions and complaints that we all deal with and show that we aren't so different after all. I think it gave a positive message (if not *slightly* patronizing) that we are all amazing and can reach out if we need to for help etc.

    Much love xoxo

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  28. I am applauding you in my kitchen while cooking dinner, beautiful Carly! What an amazing post, every word as inspiring as you. Bravo bella! xxxx

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  29. *giggles* Oh, My, that is a modern dating dilemma! I don't know how I would feel about that... though I suppose if you imagined meeting someone on the beach it would be the same. Just that they'd be looking at you, not perving an a picture in front of you. What an interesting moment.

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    1. Haha it was very awkward! But very sweet too!

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  30. I don't love my body right now, the rolls of belly and back fat are annoying. I know it's my own fault, I'm the one who does the baking after all.
    I think that bathing suit is amazing on you and would like to know which store you bought it from. I may take up swimming as an easier form of exercise.

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  31. Carly~ Whoa hot chick ! You rock girlie:-) xxx
    I did not watch the show as i agree with what you said.
    Being labeled grrr
    You are such an amazing person.

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    1. Thanks Dannie for your compliment and for understanding my stance on Embarrasing Bodies.

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  32. You've got nothing to worry about, those bathers look fab on you, who wouldn't point that out?! Loved this post. Every honest word. Luv Jac @ Common Chaos Chronicle xoxox

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    1. Thank you Jac! It's funny to receive such up front compliments though!

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  33. Great post. You are an inspiring and beautiful person.

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    1. Thanks Melanie - I really appreciate your words.

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  34. I strongly believe that the most beautiful people are the ones who are true to themselves. Their own truth shines through their eyes, their smiles and what they share of themselves with the world.
    Beautiful post from a beautiful woman. Thank you!

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    1. That is such a lovely comment - thank you so much x

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  35. Carly you are amazing hun - you have such an incredible attitude and you totally rock that cossie. I wish I had allowed myself to be as gutsy as you when I was battling my own issues, I could have saved myself so much heartache. Thank you for being such an incredible role model lovely lady xx

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    1. Thank you Sonia - I figure that with all the medical stuff I go through, worrying about what I look like to the point of hating it is just not worth it. I'm happy. I hope you're ok now x

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  36. Wow you are such an awesome person. I can really relate to a lot of what you are talking about because of me wearing a Hijab. Loved reading it. thank you for sharing. And good luck with that boy ;)

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  37. I love this post. You are a beautiful lady. xo

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  38. I love this post. I love your individuality and your confidence and your inspiration for everyone. Beauty is from within. Beauty is so much more then what is on the outside. Your attitude to everything is just so uplifting! Thank you xox

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  39. Best bit of writing I have read in a long time. I love that moment when u look into someone's eyes, and u see their soul and it's beautiful and their outer appearance becomes invisible. (I don't mean to be anonymous but my phone won't let me enter my details!!)

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  40. Love this Carly. Beautifully written and it's fairly evident why you're successful (and not just because you rock a swimsuit!).

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  41. Carly,

    You are beautiful and this post is beautiful.

    I agree with you about your condition not being embarrassing, embarrassing is people who think they are entitled to judge a person based on their appearance. A different state of being should not be classed as embarrassing.

    Trisha xx

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  42. Hi Carly you are obviously a poster woman for success, integrity and mettle. It really really hurts when we are insulted for our looks or put down for what we can't be. Touche to you for making yourself count. Our society can be so tough and mean, and I don't understand why the human heart, a good heart, is valued less than a set of fake boobs. (I hate that embarrassing bodies show - i watched it once and wondered whether the people on it would ever feel good about themselves again. It's so mercinary and awful and downright insulting to the intelligence and good will of humanity.)

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  43. I'm not surprised he zoomed in, that is one hot photo!

    I hate the title of that show. It is just sensationalism to get an audience, I find it annoys me too much to watch. There is no way we should be embarrassed by our bodies. So good on you for all you do to make people feel that they can be comfortable in their own skin.

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  44. Last year your post was the one that inspired me to share my story and gave me the courage to post photos - this year is no different - you truly are amazing and you look so great in that cozzie!

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  45. So inspiring! So beautiful! and woo woo on the boy!!

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  46. This post is very inspiring Carly, I like most people have struggled with my looks but reading your post was very touching. And you look stunning in that picture :)

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  47. I love this post. I think you are amazing and inspiring. I love reading your posts. I wish I look that great in swimmers. Rachel xx

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  48. Great post Carly (and you look pretty great in a pair of swimmers...I wish I had your legs)!

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  49. Hi Carly,

    Great post - its a very honest piece of writing that I loved! I am visiting from blog school!

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    1. Hi Bec thank you for visiting and for your lovely words.

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    2. I have just found your blog through the linkup! What a piece! You are an example of true beauty and truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story!

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