Her different-looking face is just one aspect of her
Western culture is shifting. Once, we valued only those who looked perfect and fit in to a mold that society put on a pedestal. While that’s still sometimes true these days, many people are beginning to value those who are proud of who they are, above those who strive hard to fit the mold. The waif-thin model of old is being slowly (but surely) replaced by people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and dimensions. It’s not uncommon to see models with rare skin conditions or facial differences gracing the pages of high-end magazines now.
North Carolina-native Emily Jensen is a typical teenage vlogger talking about makeup styles and crazy hair dye colors on YouTube, but there is something that sets her apart from her peers. Though people sometimes stare at her with curiosity while she walks down the street, she’s quite proud that her unique look turns heads.
When Emily was just an infant, her parents noticed a spot like a pimple growing larger and larger on the right side of her face. Her parents took her to the doctor, and she was eventually diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. This cancer affects bones and tissues, and the affected areas have to be removed to stop the spread of the cancer cells.
Her doctors removed some tissue and bone in the right side of her face which left her with a scar under her eye, but they thought that there would be little to no long-term differences in her facial development. Now 14, Emily said, “The cancer was pretty deep in my face. It was in the tissue and my cheek and in the muscles. It was, like, a big deal.”
When she was two years old, she was diagnosed with cancer yet again. This time, the lump appeared in her neck, and it caused her to develop scoliosis. She was in and out of the hospital for two years but eventually went into remission.
Since that time, she regularly gets checked for cancer. While nothing has shown up yet, Emily’s former bouts with cancer have left her with a totally unique look.
As she aged, the lack of tissue in the right side of her face distorted her features. The left side of her face grew to an average size while the right side curled around her scar. She explained, “My nostril doesn’t look the same as the other one. You can just see the scar and stuff. My eye, obviously this one’s a lot higher and this one’s a lot lower.”
Emily hated how her face looked when she was younger, and it caused her to feel badly about herself and those around her. “I had so much hatred for people and so much jealousy. Wow, it’s really sad. I really did not like myself; I hated myself,” she explained.
But the young woman grew into her looks and gained confidence as time went on. It really helped that she wasn’t shunned or bullied by her schoolmates for her differences.
Emily started making her popular YouTube videos one year ago, and the incredible response helped her feel better about herself. She realized that there is no such thing as a “normal human.” Still, she likes the idea of being a little bit different. She said, “Everybody is different, but obviously I stand out.”
A Growing Problem
As Emily ventures into her teen years, she realizes that she’s got a new set of problems to deal with that are shaking her sense of confidence already. She doesn’t know how she’s going to deal with finding boys to date. “Stuff like that has definitely affected me and my confidence in that area, because it’s like, why would this guy choose me over this extremely gorgeous girl who did not get their face surgically messed with?” she explained.
Emily has considered getting cosmetic surgery in an attempt to look more average, but she’s not very attracted to the idea. She’s grown used to her look and doesn’t feel like it affects her negatively enough to go through with surgery. Her condition doesn’t cause her any pain, and she can “shove down all the chicken nuggets and pizza” with the best of them.
Emily is getting close to have 500,000 YouTube subscribers, and she’s got her best years ahead of her to build her personal brand.
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