Hi there, my name is Rasheera and I was born with 2 very rare syndromes: GoldenHar Syndrome and VATER Syndrome. Over the course of my life I’ve had 103 surgeries. Growing up and having such a rare condition, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me, or who had gone through what I had gone through. This was really tough because I constantly felt like I didn’t fit in. I began to compare myself to others I saw in magazines and TV because my beauty didn’t look like theirs. For a long time, I felt ashamed of my difference. Matter of fact, I hated being different–I just wanted to be normal, and I did everything in my power to hide.

Nevertheless, I came to a point in my life where I grew tired of hiding my difference. I was struggling with low self-esteem and confidence, isolation, etc.–it was stopping me from living my life. I made up my mind that I did not only want to LIVE, but I wanted to live my life on purpose. I knew that in order for me to start enjoying my life, I needed to find purpose in my difference.

Even though I didn’t have a face like everyone else, there was something beautiful about me. I began to change how I thought of myself, no longer seeing myself as the girl with no ear or a crooked face, but a girl with something unique. Instead of dismissing my difference, I began to embrace it and to refer to myself as “A Beauty with a Twist.” I came to the realization that although my face isn’t typical, it is beautiful, and my difference is worth sharing with the world. I am here to let you know that your difference is beautiful too!

So now I’m a speaker, advocate and author for people just like me–people with facial differences and disabilities. I travel near and far speaking to patients and families, letting them know that there is beauty in their difference and power in their voice! I have an e-book, InnerHerself: 15 Day Guide to Embracing your Difference and a memoir, Beauty with a Twist. I realized that my story wasn’t just my own, but it has a purpose to help empower other individuals to embrace their differences. Follow me @RasheeraDopson–I would love to connect. Just as I found my beauty, you are beautiful, too!