If you have read about me in the intro blog you will have heard me talk about my sister Beth.
She has been through a lifetime of taunts about her appearance not just as a kid but as an adult. I have witnessed some moments that shocked me that human beings could even be that way towards another.
She is also the most loving, generous and caring person I know. She’s a beautiful sister as well as loving and very proud Aunty.
Me feeding Beth as kids
Beth has neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), also known as von Recklinghausen disease which occurs in 1 of every 2,500 births. Just some of the obvious signs include neurofibromas — tumors on, under, or hanging off her skin (She has a lot of them even after many surgeries). Beth also has Mental health issues including anxiety and some OCD.
Here is what Beth had to say during my interview with her…
Tell us briefly about your story…
I grew up as a pretty happy kid with two sisters, loving parents and grandparents but I always knew that I was different. It wasn't until I went to school when kids refused to play with me, calling me cross eyed and ugly and spaz or no kids would come to my birthday parties that I actually realised I didn’t fit in because of how I looked.
Being bullied was hard in high school - I couldn’t get a break from anyone without them saying something mean to me. I was well aware of the lumps which had grown on my body.
I really don't think people (bullies) must realise the full affect they have on their victims even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes worth of names exchanged, that can have a major long lasting effect into adulthood. It’s often in the back of my mind that I was told I'm ugly or a spastic and I still think of those moments and how hurtful they were but this is me, take me for what I am.
I have put a lot of work into accepting myself and how I look and what my disability means for the rest of my life and impact the bullies have had on me. I have a loving and supportive family and new partner as well as a small network of community services and people that I find comfortable to be with.
The advice I would give to others going through similar torment is stand up for yourself, stay motivated by doings things, ask for help when needed and be kind to yourself.
Beth felt and looked a million dollars when I did a vintage photo shoot for her
Beth and her assistance dog, Lulu
What motto do you live by?
Don’t try to be someone your not love yourself be proud of who you are.
Just Be… Yourself and don’t change. Your beauty is within and this will shine through to others who know YOU.
Beth and her Mum, Chris, who talk on the phone daily
Beth and her niece
Belle’s ‘yellow brick road’ blog series will share the journey of others, from those who have taken the road of self-love through to inspiring people who show us the power of empathy, kindness and helping others.
Belle refers to her body as ‘cuddly’ and her man loves it. Belle is a mad Oz fan, mumma bear of 3, and loves to shoot people in beautiful settings.