It's been a while since I've gotten really personal. And the time for that is NOW. So here I go... Earlier this week I had an interesting thing happen to me. While meeting with a person (whose identity will remain unknown) that works in an aligned industry to my own, I was told--straight to my face with 100% eye contact--that I was "too pretty to be taken seriously".
Now I should probably give you the context of conversation so that you understand what it's in reference to. My goal for the last several years has been to become a wellness tv host or correspondent for fitness & health trends happening around the world. Basically I dream of doing what I do here on Mizzfit.com but through the medium of television. I'm passionate about what I do and I'd love to reach more women doing it! The person who threw this wild comment at me knows of my ambition and for some reason thinks I'm "too pretty" to earn people's trust and make it happen.
This is where things get interesting and convoluted. While I'm so flattered to be considered "pretty", I was incredibly insulted and saddened by this comment made to me. When I heard it, I was struck with confusion. Do I say "thank you" or react as I feel (shockingly offended)? I mean what the heck do fitness trends have to do with what I look like? Shouldn't success be based on talent? Passion? Persistence? And all the good stuff that comes with making dreams come true? I walked home from the meeting bewildered and angry. Yes, I always try to look my best but I never imagined my career would hinge on my looks or peoples' perceptions of them. I have always wanted people to read my fitness trend reports and reviews because they trust me to deliver entertaining and life-changing content. I guess I've always wanted to help people find the change they're looking for. Does what I look like make that any less meaningful?
I reached deep into myself for a way to deal with these feelings and immediately thought of my beautiful friend Penny Loker from Waterloo, Ontario. I discovered Penny late one night while reading news on CNN.com. There was an article about her that was fascinating. CNN had published a photo gallery showcasing disfigured children and babies in Vietnam. There was a warning on the gallery that read "viewer discretion" in case people might be offended or put off by the severe facial disfigurement of these children. My girl Penny wrote in to CNN and gave them a piece of her mind! She was born with a disease that caused her to have facial malformation and had several corrective surgeries throughout her life. I wrote to her immediately after reading the CNN article about her. I wanted her to know how moved I was by what she had done, and I wanted her to know how ridiculously beautiful I thought she was.
I'm not the hero of this story. Penny Loker is. Although I am proud to say she has since become a trusted friend. But my point is that anyone can make an impact in this world, no matter what he or she looks like. Yes, I'm sure I've judged people a million times according to their looks (merely because I'm human and because I've done a lot of dumb shit that I wish I hadn't but at least I've learned from it), but I've never thought that someone wasn't capable of achieving their dreams or their best self simply based on their face or body or whatever!
Penny Loker became an overnight internet star for speaking up to CNN, who received her with kindness, understanding and what seems like an apology of sorts. Penny made a dent in this world. A gorgeous dent! She taught me and a ton of other people how to see--and appreciate--something from a different perspective. In her words:
The biggest change I want is for people to not make a peep about "difference" I think that we need those differences to survive but we need to stop exploiting it and making people feel beyond themselves because of it. -- Penny Loker
So while I appreciate the backhanded compliment I received this week (since I know people are gonna get on me for complaining about being told I'm pretty), I also feel the need to vent about it and say that I WILL BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY for the mere fact that I LOVE what I do and I do it with LOVE! We all deserve to be taken seriously no matter what cards God (or whoever/what you believe in) dealt us in life. Makeup'd, handicapped, disfigured or crowned pageant queen--we are all to be taken seriously. You should hear model Coco Rocha talk about what it took to become recognized as a voice not just a pretty picture. Makes you think twice about judging her career, looks or whatever you might've thought about her.
I am not too pretty or "too" anything else. I am just Bianca Jade. I believe in people who believe in amazing causes and ways of making this world we live in better. I also believe in myself and all of you reading this who are on a mission of your own. Don't ever let someone tell you that you're not good enough to make good shit happen. True beauty is measured by what's inside of you--the quality of your heart and energy. It's something I'm constantly working on. We all should.
As I wrap this up, I'm not sure how much of it makes sense. Sometimes a good vent has no direction. At the very least, I sure do hope you take me seriously. PLEASE get to know Penny Loker. Here she is on Twitter or just Google her. Her story will teach you something about what it means to be strong...and beautiful. And no matter how strong and beautiful she continues to get, I will always take her seriously and look forward to seeing her face.
I want to thank her for inspiring me to write this, too.
Has anyone ever said anything to you that made you feel similarly? How did you come to grips with it and what did it teach you about yourself? Please share in the comments section below. I learn from all your stories. xoxo, Bianca Jade/Mizz