Bailey was one of the stars in last year's Ichthyosis Awareness Month Blog Project. This past year she's had success in beauty pageants - not only showcasing physical beauty but talent and intelligence too. She's got Lamellar Ichthyosis and a very positive outlook. She did a video for FIRST:
(The photos of Bailey in the white dress are by Joelle Watt Photography. She tells me "The first four photos are from a photo shoot that told my story (the first two specifically deal with the insecurity and feeling trapped in my skin that I used to have...the second two deal with the joy, freedom, and confidence I now have in it").
I love how Bailey is showcasing her physical beauty in the perhaps fearless way that women without skin conditions do. We need to see more diversity in the beauty and fashion industry and I'm glad Bailey is such a trail blazer.
What do you think of when you hear that word? Most of you probably thought of a person. Maybe it was a family member like a grandmother, a father or an aunt. Maybe it brought to mind a celebrity that you admire or a role model you’ve looked up to since you were a child. Or perhaps a few of you thought of a thing that brings you inspiration like nature, photography, or music. Well, for me it might have been Shirley Temple as I adored her as a young girl. I wanted to be her; which I have grown a fond love for dancing, acting, and singing! However, now the word brings to mind an experience.
You see, I was born with a rare skin disorder called Lamellar Ichthyosis. There is no cure for it and it was a struggle growing up “different”. I was made fun of, avoided, stared at, and treated like an outcast at times. I became extremely shy and insecure. I felt worthless. Over time, I began to believe that I am beautiful. I chose to accept my skin and began to love it. Today, I have complete confidence in who I am and see the many blessings that have come out of living in my skin. God made me unique and different for a purpose…to be an inspiration.
I now use my story to encourage others. Sometimes I don’t need to say a word. People just see my confidence in my appearance and they are moved. Other times, I might share my story with a teenager who is struggling with image issues to let them know that they can overcome. Every month, I hold a Princess Tea where young girls come dressed up as princesses and learn the truth about beauty, about always being themselves (not what the media teaches).
In the ichthyosis community, I constantly try to let those like me know that we can have a pretty normal life and help them find the blessings in having this. Even in the talent portion of a pageant I competed in, I did a dance that told my story. Sure, there are still times where I struggle with my image. I am human after all! But it is usually short-lived as I remember how far I’ve come. Basically, I just want to share my story with whoever will listen whether that is in my workplace, in my hometown, with the media, or even in another country!
And I want to encourage YOU to be an inspiration! Use the experiences in your life (positive or negative) to reach out to the world around you, to help someone else that is going through the same thing, to shed some positive light. You never know where it might take you…"
May is Ichthyosis Awareness Month - I am sharing stories of people who have experienced Ichthyosis. Read all stories in the Ichthyosis Awareness Month Blog Project here.