CHAPTER 8Resist conformity; embrace what makes you different

Carly Findlay has spent her entire life looking different from most people. Born with a rare skin condition called ichthyosis, her skin is constantly shedding its outer layer, making it highly sensitive to the sunlight and outdoors. Her condition also means she has no eyebrows or eyelashes and causes her skin to look very red, intensified by the thick, shiny cream she has to apply when she goes outdoors. Needless to say, Carly has never looked like what society would consider ‘normal' and she never will. But as Carly said when we first met to film one of my ‘conversations of courage' interviews, ‘Why would I want to?!'

From the outset, I was struck by how accepting Carly was about her appearance, and even more so, by how powerful she was because of it. During our conversation, Carly shared that while she used to be self-conscious during her teen years, she gradually shifted how she saw her condition from something to be embarrassed about to something to embrace with pride. ‘This is who I am; it doesn't make me weird; it makes me special. Sure some people look at me and turn away, but that is their problem, not mine.' It's no surprise that Carly has become an international advocate for people who look visibly different, inspiring others to embrace their appearance rather than to hide it.


Of course, not all of us have physical differences ...

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