You are not Alone
Let me first start by saying that when I started the Disclosed Blog, that I never imagined that I would be in a place that I would comfortably talk about my own battle with Facial Relation. In the past few weeks, I have seen so much growth and strength building up across a community of women that are hungry for help. Hungry for a solution. For many, they didn’t even know that their struggles were shared by so many other women. You don’t amount nearly 30,000 followers “overnight” without sharing something of value that changes the lives of those around you, or at least gives hope. I am not just talking purely about social media following, I am talking about an entire community that has surrounded me and has confirmed that what I am not afraid to talk about is helping them in some way. My email has been flooded, I have been contacted by friends that I haven’t seen in 25 years, and clients that are proud of me for being public about what I do for work. I have had family members call me to find ways to better implement mirror affirmations with their young tweens. I have had people stop me to chat about body image and facial relation issues in the grocery store, in the mall, at the gym, at the park, at the gas pump, and pretty much every other location that I have been over the last month. Stopped. Recognized. Connected. I am in awe that I could be used as a voice to speak boldly on the issues that affect so many of us. I have a deep gratitude for being a source of encouragement and hope for so many. Thank you for trusting me with a piece of your heart. For that, I will be forever grateful. I keep putting my heart out there, and you keep responding in unison with, “I didn’t know that I wasn’t alone.” So I’m going to keep putting my heart out there.
Let me back up just a moment and say that word. Recognized. Not recognition, but recognized. Someone recognized me. Not just one person, but thousands of people. What a concept. Recognition.
It all started on a Thursday. After decades of consulting those in the limelight with uncovering and developing their own personal brand, I knew that at some point someone would probably recognize me from a television segment, but I thought that day was pretty far off in the future. I had just posted the first of the “Time Out” series that morning, and was sitting at the dentist office waiting for my cleaning appointment. During my visit to the dentist, there were 4 people that recognized me from our area’s local style show, Indy Style. 4 in one morning. After my appointment while holding tears back, I called my husband to tell him how awesome that was, and how much that confirmed the path that I was on. That was before I knew that blog post had gone somewhat viral.
When I was 4 years old, I was diagnosed with a lazy eye. Part of the treatment of correcting that lazy eye was to wear bifocal glasses and a patch over my non-lazy eye to help my weak eye to gain strength over time. My mom always made me feel like it was the coolest thing. She had a knack for making sure that no one felt like an outsider, and was included despite differences. Because of that, I never thought that I was odd or all too much different for needing the glasses and eyepatch. My mom and I were working really hard together to reach the goal of both eyes having equal strength. There were many nights spent playing connect the dots and reading through a viewfinder that would shift lines of print bringing them in and out of focus. She would take me to Hook’s the local drug store to pick out Stickers to place on my eyepatch, my favorite was one that read “under construction”. I thought that it was cool and I could not wait to show off my new look. A few month in to the correction process, we had a family picture scheduled and I was certain my cousins would think that it was cool too.
After dinner, we were all gathering on set to have the photographer take our family photos. With my parents caught up in the hustle and bustle of finding their spot on the set, my step-grandmother pulled me aside and said, “You know, Brandie, none of us really want you here. You are too ugly to be in our family pictures”. Honestly, at the age of 4, I had never heard that word before and did not know what it meant. I just knew that it wasn’t good, and it meant that no one wanted me there. You can plainly see in the opening image that I was crushed. I was the only one not smiling in the family photo, arms crossed and hurt. No one wanted me there. I found out what the word Ugly meant later. When you are 4, you don’t have the capacity to reason and deduce the validity of someone’s words. You take everything you hear from adults at face value. Much like “Don’t run out in the street, you might get hit by a car,” or “Daddy is silly.” Daddy might not be comedian level funny, but you start to shape an idea of what the word silly means based on the way that daddy acts. I knew that Ugly meant unworthy to be in a family picture. In my young mind, I visioned my face as though it were completely blank. Unrecognizable. Unworthy. Shameful. I didn’t focus on my face much, because I already knew that it was not to be seen.
I didn’t realize until I was an adult how much that one encounter shaped my daily life. I was at a restaurant when I was 20 and ran into someone that I had gone to high school with. From across the room I heard someone calling out my name, “Brandie! Brandie! It is so good to see you! Where have you been? I haven’t seen you since graduation.” I was stopped dead in my tracks in complete shock. All that was running through my head was, “How does he know that it’s me? How does he recognize me? I don’t have a face worthy of recognition.” You may think that is odd, but it was my exact thoughts. You would think that would have woke me and shed some light on the issue that I was struggling with. I mean, I was actually friends with this guy. I think we even went out on a date once or twice? You would think that I could see how I wasn’t faceless to this guy after going to school with him for nearly 4 years. I was in the middle of a span of 3 years where I really didn’t even look in the mirror at my face. Even though I had been professionally applying makeup on models for fashion shows, I wasn’t even really looking in the mirror to complete my own makeup. I had a routine that was super minimal and I could complete in 6 minutes flat, no mirror. My relationship with my face was non existent.
I have gone from the understood that I was unrecognizable, to now being comfortable being easily recognized everywhere I go. I have gone from working behind the scenes to working in front of the camera knowing that I have a face that is worthy of recognition. I can more than handle looking in the mirror at my face in it’s entirety without feeling the pressure or urge to look away. Without seeing crooked eyes, missing eye brows, bright red cheeks, and dark circles. What may appear as something that happened overnight happened in the shadows of my heart over years. I didn’t know that I was struggling, so I didn’t know that Facial Relation was holding me back. Not just in my profession, but in my life. How do you know if it’s holding you back?
What is Facial Relation you ask? Facial Relation is the relationship that you have with your face and facial features. Though my battle is somewhat extreme, I would bet after hearing my cliffs notes version that you can relate on some level. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see what others see and recognize as unique qualities? Or do you see your own facial features in relationship to what they could look like, or in relationship to who’s characteristics you secretly wish that you possessed? Do you look at your face in it’s entirety, or do you dominate each area with makeup covering up imperfections?
In my profession, I have worked with so many people that have dealt with many variations of Facial Relation. As a society, we have come so far down the path of unworthiness, and brokenness, and literally no one is talking about it. We are not alone. 30,000+ people doesn’t feel alone anymore, now does it? That is only a small fraction of those who are out there struggling silently, or don’t even know that they are worthy of recognition. Worthy to be seen. Shameless. Loved and honored. This is the opening of a 3 part series. Next week we will be shedding light on the different levels of disconnect that result in Facial Relation. You may not be struggling with the exact form that I did, but know that if there is one component of your face that you wish you could use a constant filter on, you are not alone. I am right here with you, on your journey to healing.