“I am not my face”

Project Description:

When I look in the mirror I see a young woman- long brown hair, blue eyes, red lips, straight teeth, and yet, I also see my imperfection. My imperfection takes many forms. Some mornings it is my skin, sometimes my hair, but the worst is when I wake up and see my imperfection in my disability. At 15, my family and I discovered that I had severe hearing loss. Something not too shocking as it is not uncommon within my family, yet that discovery changed the way I saw myself completely. Now, at 19 with two hearing aids that channel sound into my ears at four times the level I’ve heard noise before in my life, there are days where I see my imperfection as a sign of not being beautiful. Comments made about wires in my ears, or the strange ways I turn my head to hear them better, the look of concentration on my face as I carefully read people’s lips to understand what they are saying. I’ve never received a positive comment on the looks of my hearing aids, the best being ‘you can hardly see them’.

What?

Beauty is defined by society. However, the ideal beauty that women seek cannot be found. We fantasize being the perfect woman: beautiful, smart, funny, but how can anyone expect to reach those goals? Every girl I’ve ever known struggled with the concept of becoming beautiful, including myself. From a young age, I was bombarded by society’s definition of beauty. From stick thin girls with big breasts in our modeling industry to the now popular ‘classic beauty’ of women with hips and a tiny waist. I have two sisters, and both fall into one of these ideas of beauty. I saw myself as neither, as the ugly duckling, but looking back, so did they. Years of struggle led me to where I am now. I still fight to be considered beautiful, and I still feel hurt when people comment on my disability. Each comment hurt me, but after years of inspection, I learned the one that was hurting me most was myself.

Even though sometimes I see my disability as a weakness, I never show it. I wear my hair up almost everyday, so I can show off my hearing aids to my family, friends, classmates, and even strangers. Why? Because my face and hearing aids are a part of me. When I feel ashamed, I look in the mirror, I look at my face. It’s a part of me, and it always will be, but my face and my disability will not define me. Its becoming more clear with each and every day that I am me and I am not only my face.