Chloe Howard

When I was younger, I thought I had a superpower. I would think, “I only have three toenails, and my foot looks different than yours. I’m pretty awesome!”

The truth is, I am not “normal”. I’m different. I was born with a clubfoot, a foot deformity that made my left foot upside down and backwards. I underwent my first operation when I was six months old. I have had four major operations and several minor ones since. I have had multiple rounds of casting, braces, and endless hours in physical therapy.

Growing up my parents taught me that my feet are special, even beautiful. And even if I was in pain or couldn’t do things my friends could do, I believed them. But last year, when I was a freshman, I was assaulted at my former high school because of my deformed foot. I felt ashamed of what I’d always been told made me special.

After my assault, I felt like my identity was gone, and I’m still re-learning how to embrace myself again. I often feel insecure about my body and it’s abilities. My world seems upside down and hopeless at times. Yet, with each passing day, I am healing.

Yes, I have a deformed foot. This is my “normal”. It’s my reality. We’re all irregular, dysfunctional, or malformed in some way – whether it’s on the exterior or the interior. And it’s futile to try to conform to a “normal.” That doesn’t exist. Our differences make us who we are. The parts of us that society deems ugly, or weird, or abnormal need to be embraced and loved. We are each uniquely perfect, beautiful, and special.

I think it’s time to re-define normal. I want to empower people of all ages to embrace their uniqueness and boldly face their beautiful selves. This small step has the potential to change the world, one person at a time. This is why I stand beautiful.

With a Perspective, I’m Chloe Howard.

Chloe Howard is 15, and attends high school in Santa Clara County.