Most of us remember our high school days fondly, a time of new experiences, new friendships and lots of fun.
But for Chelsey Peat she recalls them as a complete nightmare.
The Canadian mom of two said her peers were cruel, they even set up a club against her called ‘The Chelsey Haters Club,’ for the simple reason that she had a birth mark on her face.
Chelsey was born with Sturge-Weber syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that affects the development of certain blood vessels and occurs in 1 in up to 50,000 people.
Her condition resulted in a large port wine stain birthmark that covers the left side of her face. She also has a glaucoma in her eye.
The condition not only caused visual differences but also physical and as a child she had to have the occipital lobe of her brain removed to stop her seizures.
Doctors told her parents that she had only a 5 percent chance of living. And if she did survive, they said she had a 50 percent chance of “mental instability.”
The relentless bullying Chelsey was forced to endure led to some “dark times” in her life.
High school sucked, there was clubs against me…I didn’t really have that social life, I didn’t have that date for proms, there was segregation,” she said.
“I had rude notes stuffed in my locker, I had horrible things drawn on my books, it was not a fun time.
“I’ve suffered with some mental health in the past….there were times I didn’t want to leave the house, the whispering, the ogling, by grown adults is what drives me mad, I’ve had people come up to ask if it’s infectious.
“It’s got to the point where I say to people ‘if you’re going to stare either ask for my autograph or take the damn picture.'”
But at 34 years old she has defied all her high school bullies and all her difficulties to get married, have two beautiful girls and has become an ambassador for people with facial differences.
She spends time with as many people as possible in her area who also have similar birthmarks, referring to them as her “birthmark buddies.”
“Society, movies, portray anyone with a facial differences as a monster,” she said.
“Being an ambassador for people with facial differences has given me the strength to do this,” she added right before she sat for her first real personal photo shoot.
As her mom watched Chelsey getting ready for the shoot she said: “She was able to go to college and have two beautiful children and a marriage and how she’s helping others, I’m beyond proud.”
Chelsey is proving everyone wrong by sitting for this photo shoot, but it’s taken a lot of hard work and inner strength to get to this moment.
“I’m perfectly comfortable with how I look right now, I’m sorry if some people aren’t,” Chelsey added.
The cruelty that Chelsey has had to endure just for being different is hard for most of us to comprehend.
Please share to pay tribute to her bravery and encourage others to celebrate differences, not fight against them. She is an inspiration.