I want to empower people of all ages to embrace their uniqueness and boldly face their beautiful selves.
Video courtesy of TEDx Santa Barbara.
A Beautiful Story
Chloe was born with a severe foot deformity. She has had numerous operations and faced daunting challenges but has always met each hurdle with emotional strength and grace. In 2014, Chloe was a victim of assault and bullying at her high school. Six months later, she had the courage to begin telling her story. She met Bono who spoke powerful words about fighting injustice. This became a turning point for Chloe and would mark a recovery story that builds in strength with each re-sharing.
Please share this story with your family and friends about the effects of bullying, and the message that your differences are beautiful.
I’ll never forget the time I met Bono. He locked his attention onto me and spoke a truth that changed the course of my life. He told me that when my words are right and true, my voice can be like a punch. Not a physical punch, but a verbal punch, supported by the voices of many. These words changed my life, and inspired me to speak out. I am silent no more.
I refuse to to be invisible.
Read Transcript with Bono
“This was a hard year for me. I was assaulted at my high school. I was born with a deformed foot. Some girls held me down, took off my shoe and mocked my foot. It was really hard.”
“Injustice. What happened to you was an injustice.”
“About the same time that this happened to me, your single ‘Invisible’ came out. The words of that song spoke to me. They inspired me to not feel as invisible. I wanted the ability to stand up for myself. Your song helped me do that. I wanted them to know I had a voice.”
“People ask me if I get nervous when I speak to leaders of the world about injustice. No, I don’t get nervous, because I carry the voices of the many. Like a big, powerful punch collected with all the energy of the world. You have to use that power when you tell your story.”
“I like that.”
At this moment you could see the whole story wash over him.
“The logic of the universe bends towards love. When you are right, (When you have truth) and tell your story, it can give you that power. When you are right, you HAVE the Power. You have to use that power to fight injustice.”
“What is your passion, Chloe?”
“I’m still working on that.”
“That’s ok. It’s a good place to be. We have a prayer in our family. It’s a simple prayer that states that we are available for work. Whether we say that prayer in the Pub or at home, when we make ourselves available for work, we are more open for what we may be called to do.”
“I love Jesus… and I know you do too.”
“You stay available for work, and the work will wash over you.”
“I wanted to thank you for being a good role model. Our generation needs better role models.”
“If you really knew me, Chloe, you wouldn’t say that. But Thank you.”
He then signed and personalized our guitar and took a picture with us. It was a very meaningful connection and changed my life.
Behind The Story
My name is Chloe. I am different. Being different is really hard. I was born with a severe Clubfoot and only three toenails. I underwent my first operation when I was six months old. I have had 4 major operations and several minor ones since. I have had multiple rounds of casting, gone through a couple braces, completed endless hours in physical therapy, and suffered through both physical and mental pain.
I can’t always relate to other people, and I feel left out a lot – Left out of games, sports, friend groups. I have to deal with all sorts of problems that other people don’t have to go through, and a lot of those people don’t even realize that it affects me so much.
Growing up my parents taught me that my feet are special, even beautiful. But since my assault I’ve had a really hard time believing that. As a teenager, how am I supposed to feel comfortable in my own skin and grow as an individual if I’m ashamed of what’s attached to the bottom of my leg? I became insecure about my body and it’s abilities and had a hard time putting myself out there and making friends because of it.
I began to ask myself questions like how can I date someone and let them love me if I have a hard time loving myself? My world seemed upside down and hopeless.
But then, something changed. I realized that, as a child of God, I am loved for who I am, not what I look like. God made me perfectly and He doesn’t make mistakes. This shift in my thinking allowed me to forgive the girls who assaulted me and has given me a vision of helping others who are travelling the same road.
Now I don’t worry about “normal” anymore because my “normal” is different from everyone else’s. People say that I don’t look “normal”, but the way my foot looks is normal to me. It’s my reality. In fact, I choose to believe my “normal” is… beautiful.
None of us are “normal” because we all have a part of us that is irregular, or dysfunctional, or malformed, or might not even be there. We all have separate realities; a different “normal”. So why try conforming yourself to fit the world’s “normal”? It’s a futile mission.
I have decided to STAND beautiful, because that is how I remain in God’s eyes. I face each day with the confidence knowing that I want to empower people of all ages to embrace their uniqueness and boldly face their beautiful selves.
Will you STAND Beautiful with me?