19 April 2010

It's a brighter day :)

It's amazing what a supportive environment can do for me.

Car sorted. It's at the garage and will be there for a few days. The heater has broken and needs to be fixed. Thank goodness for public transport.

Back at work today. Lots of laughs, and lots of kind words from colleagues, friends and strangers. How nice it was to receive a warm greeting today. How nice it was to be made to feel valued.

While I don't think it's professional to blog about work, and I will never go into detail, there are two exciting things I want to share. Tomorrow I'm going to the zoo for a meeting. The zoo! I hope to meet Mali. If I don't, there will be tears. I've also been chosen to go to Sydney for a conference about disability and diversity. Very excited to be acknowledged and chosen for this trip.

I also received a response from the High Street Northcote Trader's Association. It was a kind, heartfelt apology about what happened on Saturday. The representative believes it's been great that I've put the message out about this shopkeeper on Twitter, Facebook and this blog. He will also be taking my email, and other friends' emails to the shopkeeper, and speaking to her about her behaviour. He wants me to let everyone who sent in an email know that he appreciates you supporting me and letting the Trader's Association know how this woman treated me.

I also want to take the time to thank every one of you for your support. It's been overwhelming, and honestly, many of your comments and messages have brought me to tears. Yesterday my blog had 1080 views. Wow! I can't believe so many friends and strangers have come forward to voice their anger. Thank you for showing me what I am worth. Thank you also for restoring my faith in humankindness. I am very proud to know you all, and if we haven't met, I am very touched that you have taken some time from your day to send me a message.

I posted a letter to the woman today.

This is what it said:

18 April 2010

To Sylvia,

I was in your Things Second Hand store on Saturday 17 April, around about 2.00 pm.

You may remember me. I was the young lady with a skin condition. I had a red face.

The skin condition is called ichthyosis form erythroderma. This means scaly red skin. I was born with this condition, and there is no cure. The condition is medically and socially challenging. It is painful and susceptible to infections. If the skin infection gets too severe, I need to go into hospital to have IV antibiotics and bandages over my whole body, including my face. There is risk the infection can get into my blood and make me very sick.

I also get stared at, commented on and questioned about my appearance each day. Generally I don't notice, and am able to handle strangers' reactions to my condition politely and without fuss.

Your reaction to my condition did not deserve a polite response. I make no apology for swearing at you. I rarely swear. But when you demanded to know what was on my face, several times, I was so angry. I should never have to explain why I look the way I do.

I have vaseline on my face. Each day I cover my whole body with vaseline. Yes, it can pose a problem for my own clothes. My washing machine gets a work out. But when in stores, particularly when trying on clothes, I take great care in not getting vaseline, or skin, on the clothes.

On the Saturday when I was in your store, I did not touch the clothes. I was not eating and I did not have soiled hands. I was no threat to your clothes.

You had no right to demand to know what was on my face, or tell me that whatever is on my face will ruin the clothes.

When people ask me why I am red, even when they are rude, they are usually concerned for me – was I burnt? Was I sunburned? Am I ok?

But you took the cake. You were not concerned for me, but your clothes in your store. And I am writing to you today to let you know just how angry you made me.

I have written to the High Street Northcote Committee advising them of the way you treated me. I will also be writing to the Darebin Council to report your behaviour. And I will be lodging a complaint with the Victorian Government's Office for Disability.

I have also published the story of this humiliating experience in your store on my website. I have named your store. So far, over 1300 people have viewed my website. I have received around 100 comments on the website and my social networking pages in support of me, and stating how rude, small minded and discriminatory you are. Friends and strangers have also let their friends know about the way you treated me on their social networking sites on the internet.

You should be ashamed about the way you treated me. I expect that my experience was not the first time you have denigrated a customer in your store. People need to know about this.

I don't imagine this letter will make a difference to you opening your mind and thinking before you speak. But I hope it will make you realise the impact the impact your behaviour had on me on Saturday 17 April. And I hope that no one that sets foot in your your store will be treated this way by you again.


I will go to sleep with a smile on my face tonight.

Thank you for helping me do so.


  1. You go! What a marvellous letter you've written to her. Succinct, polite, and firm but no BS about how you really feel.

    Fabulous work :-)

  2. That was a great letter to Sylvia; Carly.

    I can only think back to school when kids made fun of you, and it makes me sad to think that on occasions I was one of those people.
    Some people grow up, and some people don't, and you obviously met one of the countless arseholes out there who haven't, refuse or are just to plain stupid to grow up.

    I think you are a couragous Woman, and hope you have a great life. Sylvia can get hit by a bus for all I care, and I hope she does. It may be good for her to be disfigured in some way to make her remember all those good times she had when she was 'Normal'.
    Karma Carly, Karma.

    I hope your well!

    Heath Prideaux.

  3. Carly, what a well thought out and beautifully articulated letter. If that ladies doesn't cry in shame, she truly is missing a part of her heart which makes us human.

    Sorry I haven't yet commented or sent my love and support, just catching up on your blog tonight.

    xx Polly

  4. Fantastic letter Carly!

    I would love to meet you one day.

  5. Bravo, Carly. That's a fantastic letter and I hope it makes her think twice next time about being such a bitch.

  6. Well said Carly. Very polite. You're a very strong woman, I would've been crushed if that bitch of a woman did that to me.
    Take the fight to her!

  7. That's an awesome and very well written letter Carly. I hope that woman feels ashamed of herself!

  8. Fantastic letter Carly. You are such a strong and inspirational woman. Well done also for reporting her to the Traders Association too and getting such a supportive response.

  9. I hope that her shop closes down.

    That is the best letter I have ever read. You got everything you needed to say out there.

  10. well done Carly. I bet when she recieves this letter she thinks to herself 'holy crap, i am in sooooo much trouble'lol. Maybe she will think twice next time, and have some respect for others

  11. Fantastic letter Carly!! So glad that you had such a positive response from the Trader's Association too. I honestly don't really know how I would respond to such treatment from someone like you experienced on Saturday. Once I'd calmed down from the anger I'd probably just try and 'get over it' in time. But by doing what you did, making the complaints and writing to the lady herself will hopefully make this lady see the impact of her behaviour. Like one of your friends who has already commented on here said, some people just don't ever grow up, and sadly their cruel ways never change. Let's just hope your letter will make this woman think twice before opening her mouth.

    You have so much to cope with already Carly, and people like Sylvia...well... arrrrghhhh!! God it infuriates me!! I won't say what I really think because I'm a polite person and like yourself, it's not often I swear either (not in writing anyway lol), and I'll probably get into trouble hehe (only kidding).

    Stay strong Carly, I really admire you :-)
    Take care

  12. Go Carly. Great letter and I hope said shopkeeper feels remorse and replies back with a good apology.

  13. This is my first post for you,Carly.I really admire in what you have done.
    You did the right thing.Your letter will make her realize hw rude she was to you and perhaps to many others out on the street.You have voiced out for many people who did not have a chance to fight back.
    I hope you will receive an apology from her very soon.

    Take care

  14. That's a great letter Carly, here's hoping she feels sick to her stomach when she realises how she made you feel. Hope you get a positive response and glad to hear how supportive everyone has been.

  15. Carly, I can't imagine how much inner strength it takes to go throw what you go through. You deserve such credit for behaving with as much civility as you did.

  16. awesome letter carly! i wish id visited your blog a few days ago when this happened, im in shock hearing about it! how wonderful that everyone has been supportive. although, why wouldn't they?!! you're an amazing person with incredible strength and kindness. xxx

  17. What a well writen and thort out letter. And very poilet to. You are a very strong young lady. I too would love to meet you.xxxxx

  18. I'm so glad that they've supported you and are going to talk to her. You were so, soeloquent with it! :D xxx

  19. It's appalling how you were treated and I'm glad to hear your complaint is being taken seriously. I hope your letter hits home and she realises how awful she made you feel.

  20. Well done Carly, I'm so pleased with you for all your fantastic work to ensure this woman is accountable for her appalling behavior.

    It's pleasing that the High Street association is supporting you in this endeavor, and I confess I did send them an email in regards to your experience and how I would be reticent to support local retail unless it was addressed.

    Keep up the good work and let us know the outcome.

  21. Gosh what a great letter Carly. I think you nailed it honey. You made it very clear how this woman's disgusting behaviour affected you and I hope that somehow she gets a real insight into how her words and actions made you feel.
    You are an amazing girl Carly
    Kate X

  22. Carly, you're an inspiration. If faced with that kind of horrific discrimination, I think I would probably just collapse in a heap of shock!
    You really articulated exactly how demeaned you felt, without sinking to her level.
    I really hope that she gets what's coming to her! You really are a true inspiration!

  23. Kudos to you Carly. I think you've handled this horrible situation very well. Stay strong!


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