Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Embrace You (Part Two): I Asked 50 Artists from Around the World to Draw Me





Hello, friend!  Welcome to my blog.

I know many of you saw the first Embrace You blog post, but just in case you need a refresher, or you're new here - let's take a moment to recap. :-)

Recap

In April, I was walking down the streets of New York City for the very first time, and I noticed several artists drawing tourists in the middle of the pathways in the city.  Watching them work on their newly commissioned art pieces, I couldn't help but wonder, "If I asked them to draw me, would they include my facial, port wine stain birthmark?  Would they ask if I want it included in the image?  Or would they make that decision without asking me?"

While I didn't act on that idea in that moment, a few weeks later I found myself contacting several artists with one goal in mind: To see how many people would naturally include my birthmark in an art piece, and to see how each artist interprets it.

As I started this journey, there were only two rules that I gave each artist:

1. Each piece must remain politically neutral.
2. My character must remain modest in her attire.

Why Call this Project, "Embrace You"?

Sometimes when we look in the mirror, we don't like what we see.  We're having a bad hair day, a new pimple randomly appeared on our face over night, we've been bullied, or we've just never been friends with our reflections.

While this blog entry rooted from an idea attached to my birthmark, I've had days where I've struggled to embrace my appearance because of "normal" reasons.  My hair never wants to cooperate, I've always struggled with my weight, and while my birthmark as a whole doesn't bother me - my face isn't symmetrical because of the extra blood flow...And that's all my personal, internal dialogue going on there.  I've also been turned into a meme because of my difference (which went viral to over 30 million people), been told I'm "contagious", and was once approached about being on the shows "Too Ugly for Love"/"The Undateables".

Trust me, I get it.  It's hard.  It can be a constant, uphill battle - both internally and externally.

Yet, in the last four months, I've worked with 50 artists, and no two artists have drawn me the exact same way.    We so often focus on the small details, rather than who we are as a whole.  So, while I'm focusing on my bad hair on a Tuesday morning, and no matter how we see ourselves in the mirror, odds are...That's not how the rest of the world sees us.  They see so much more.




After sharing the first Embrace You post, I realized that I forgot to share about the logos that were designed.  I have a total of four logos, all of which were created by a super talented artist in Italy.  I absolutely loved working with her, and thought she did great as she created a watercolored edition of my birthmark for this piece.  After emailing her some photos, she wrote back and told me, "...it almost looks like a beautiful watercolour in its self!  It's beautiful!"  Interestingly enough, since then, several of the artists have told me the same thing about the watercolor look that my birthmark holds.


Would they include my birthmark, or not?

You may remember that for some of the artists, I didn't specific for them to include my birthmark.  In fact, I sent them a variety of photos - two where the birthmark is totally obvious, one where it's mild due to makeup, and two where it's totally hidden.  Every time I began to work with a new artist, I let them know, "I can't wait to see what you come up with - and please let me know if you have any questions."  In the end, very few asked.  Most assumed or made that decision without conversation.  Here are some of those images...


This is one of the pieces I received where the artist didn't ask about my birthmark, but he did made that side of my face slightly redder.  When I asked about it, the artist (from the United States) told me, "As for the side of your face I made redder in tone I really had no special reason for doing it other than the reference photo that you sent (the one that I worked from) had a bit redder tone on that side. Sometimes different lighting situations can effect the colors on photos I guess. I just read it as being a little more redder in tone based on the photo I used for reference."  

How adorable is this??  Originally my birthmark was left off the image, but this artist from Indonesia was quick to add it when I made the request. :-)
Just like the art piece above, this artist from India originally left my birthmark off as well, but quickly added my port wine stain to the character he created.  And hey - now I know what I would look like as an anime cowgirl.

YeeHaw, y'all, YeeHaw.

If you saw the original Embrace You blog post, you may recall an image that was created by Sarah Erb, where she drew me with Natalie Grant and Charolette Gambill.  When we first connected online, I just asked her to draw me without mentioning my birthmark.  Quickly she wrote back and asked me if I wanted my birthmark included, and I told her I did.  I loved this piece so much, that's when I asked her to create the piece with Natalie and Charolette.  


Celebration

Here are some of the pieces I received when I asked artists to intentionally celebrate my birthmark and/or a part of my story...



While I shared a photograph on the first blog entry that my dear friend, Rick Guidotti, took - this is another favorite picture that he took.  (And I have to say, this photo really makes me miss my purple highlights.)  Rick is an award-winning, former fashion photographer.  He once spent his days photographing famous models, such as Cindy Crawford, but now he travels the world photographing people with different medical conditions.  He runs an organization called Positive Exposure - and I highly recommend you check out his website to learn more about all the incredible things he's doing.

Oh. My. Word.
Nothing makes me feel as fierce as this piece, which was created by Naia Jozame, from Colombia.  When I asked what inspired the piece of art she created for me, she told me, "All women have a particular beauty, the beauty that you project is unique and very beautiful."  


I love how this artist from the United States  showed me doing one of my favorite things, speaking and encouraging others.  (In this piece, I'm wearing one of my favorite necklaces from Natalie Grant's line.  The necklace says, "Worth More Than Diamonds" - which is always a beautiful reminder of my worth.  I'm also wearing a bracelet from one of my favorite organizations fighting against human trafficking, 3Strands Global.)
Guyyyssssss...If this isn't me, I don't know what is.  Traveling is one of my all-time favorite things to do, and I'm always on the lookout for the next trip. (Speaking of, I think my passport needs to be dusted off sometime soon!)  I think Lenore, from the United States, did a great job capturing me in my element.

I almost feel like I'm in a modern-day person in a fairytale land in this image.  It almost gives me an Enchanted movie vibe, but reversed.  (This was created by an artist in Turkey.)

There are some pieces that I've received that have left me speechless, and this is one of them.  Although I never heard back from her to know what encouraged the artist, Karina (from Chicago), to portray my birthmark as a bird, she did encourage me, "I admire you so much for being so positive with life with your birthmark; never let other people to put you down. Always remember you're beautiful in every way."

If a Peanuts character had a birthmark...And oh my word, I LOVE it.
(An artist in the United States created this piece.)

This image and the one below it are probably the two closest to being alike.  The artist, Angelica (from Denmark), explained, "What inspired me was how your birthmark seemed to be filled with different 'emotions'. The purple/blue/pink color in it is really pretty and it's like it has a story. The butterflies symbolizes grace, vulnerability and beauty, and I just felt like they fitted with what I felt from looking at you. You have really beautiful eyes! So the 'stronger' blue emphasizes that."  Wowzers.  Such depth to her interpretation.

Caitlin Harris, from Canada, created this piece.  I like that she included my birthmark on my lip, as my lip is affected in coloring and size by the port wine stain.
Because of the spotty affect this one holds, it slightly reminds me of what the birthmark looks like a few days after treatment (although after a treatment, my birthmark is typically much darker in tone).
This was created by Arti, from India.



Who doesn't want to be a minion?  This was created by Ashleigh, from Malaysia. 


This piece was created by an artist in India. It's a great piece, and I found it interesting that my birthmark was created more as an orange than pink/purple. 


Y'all.  I'm Princess Leia...And look at the tiny Yoda teaching me the ways of the Force.
Working with  Enrique Fierro from Chili, I remember him asking me what color lightsaber I wanted, so I gave him a typical Crystal reply, "What if the color of it matched my birthmark?"...And voila!  Pink lightsaber I hold, I do.

An artist in Pakistan created this piece of art.

Mirjana from Macedonia created this painting using acrylic.

This piece was created by Eryz, from Indonesia, who often creates comic-style art.  While I gave her complete freedom to create my image how she wanted, I did request the speech bubble to say, "Making a difference with my difference".



Van Gia Hao, from Vietnam, created this image.  Asking him about his art piece, he told me, "My inspiration came from the photo your friend, who is also a photographer, took for you. I wanted to create an image of a strong, confident, and beautiful young woman, whose smile can bring comfort and inspires others around her."  I also asked about his experiences from drawing other people, "I haven't drawn a lot of people who are very confident in themselves, most would ask me to change part of them they don't like, I think they are just being too conscious of their image that they forgot to relax and enjoy life."

Asking Hao if he had anything he wanted to share with you, the reader, he wrote, "To the readers: Be happy with yourself, be nice to other people, never stop learning new things."





My friend Cindy Ellison, here in the United States, created this one.
(Her dad, Brian, is the friend who actually created a 3 minute video about my story.)
This image was created by an artist in India.  

"Scooby Dooby Doo, Where are you"
(This was created by an artist in Pakistan.)

Pink Zero, from Pakistan, drew me as a rockstar. Curious as to why she chose a rockstar (because the irony is not lost on me with my lack of musical talent), she told me, "What inspired me to draw you the way I did was your confidence and the wholeheartedness with which you have accepted every aspect of your personality. To me you seemed like a celebrity in yourself and to be honest I felt there is a cool and fun side of yourself so I depicted that in your portrait!!"  


If you look closely at the butterfly sitting on my finger, you'll notice that the wings aren't the same color.  The creativity of this concept was amazing.  I asked Mikucchi from Indonesia what made her come up with this concept, and she told me, "I don't know about the butterfly. I just thought a quote, 'just because you're different, doesn't mean you're not beautiful!' really suits well with the butterflies!"  Interestingly enough, one of my aunts recently got a tattoo with butterflies - one with two different colored wings, a symbol of me as her niece and of my journey.

Yes, that's me.  As a cat...with a birthmark.  I mean, how fun is this one?  Interestingly enough, I had a bruise near my collar bone in one of the pictures I sent this artist (from Ukraine), and I almost asked them to remove the bruise affect from the cat.  However, because my birthmark is considered a vascular malformation, my iron levels and platelets are affected, and excessive bruising is a common symptom I experience.  Since my birthmark and blood levels are connected, I decided to leave the image as is.

This piece was created by Diana Nemesu, an artist in Romania.  When asked what inspired the piece she created, she wrote to me, "Well I love animals and I figured you loved them too. You are a beautiful person, not only on the outside but on the inside too and I figured I'd draw you as an animal saver, a person who walks on a cold day just to save an abandoned baby animal."  And she's right - I do love animals.  (My dream as an 8-year-old was to open an animal shelter.  I created a business plan for it and everything...Or at least, a business plan by an 8-year-old's standards.)


Okay...Soooo...This is what an avatar would look like with a birthmark.  Wowzers, right?
For those wondering, the gal standing next to me is singer Jamie Grace.  She was in one of the images I sent the artists, as an example to the different colors and shades my birthmark may have.  Out of all the artists, they were the only one who included her in their art.
(This was created by Anindya Kharisma in Indonesia.)

This image was created by an artist in the Netherlands.

An artist in Singapore sent this one to me.  And like the cat image above, he also included the bruise, which I also considered asking him to remove - but didn't.

My friend Denise and I coordinate a women's event together every year, and this graphic was created for this year's event that took place in September.  (Our theme was "Connect 4".)  But this is SO us...I mean, really...Is it any surprise that we're really undercover superheroes - with a Jamba Juice and diet Dr. Pepper in hand? (While I do my best to credit all the artists, this artist's website was down when I went to access it for this entry.  I will be checking again soon, so I can update that information when possible.)

Do you guys remember the TED talk art piece from the first blog entry?  That same artist, Minette Wasserman from South Africa, took the time to draw me as a bunny.  She went above and beyond with the first piece of art, and this one was such a sweet surprise.

My sweet friend, Rachel Donahue (from the United States), sent me this image and the one below it as well.  

This is one of the first drawings I received.  My friend, Rachel Donahue (mentioned above), drew this for me...and I think it's amazing.  She's right - I am so much more than a (port wine) "stain" birthmark, and I am so thankful for the friends in my life who remind me of that on both the good, and the bad days.  (Speaking of...one of my friends, Denise Nicholes, also once wrote a song about my journey with my birthmark called, "Beyond the Stain".)

Making a post on Fiverr, I asked if there were any artists who would be willing to create a Barbie with a birthmark.  This artist from Venezuela replied, and created this design based off the newer Barbies.

The artist who created the Barbie also created this piece, which was super sweet of her to do.  (She also sent me another copy of this character, but with glasses on as well.)

This one is hard to not love, right??  (The artist who created this piece is from Indonesia.)

So. Much. Cuteness.
(This was created by an artist in Malaysia.)

Last but not least, my good friend, David Jones (from the USA), sent me a card a few weeks ago, and this was in it.  You have to save the best for last, right? ;-)

Embrace You Challenge

So many of us struggle to embrace who we are, as we are...And that goes for both our external appearances, to our internal talents and passions.

Growing up, I saw the beauty in specific talents, talents of which I do not hold.  Nearly everyone on my mom's side of the family is musically inclined, yet I can't even keep beat.  As I grew up with one of my cousins, just 6 months apart, he was always mastering a new instrument.  The saxophone, piano, guitar, jaw harp, flute - you name it, he could play it...Yet, I couldn't even manage a tambourine, let alone any larger instrument.

I was always naturally drawn to writing, photography, and other interests.  Yet, until recent years, I didn't see the value in my natural, God-given gifts.  Instead, for years, I guilted myself for not fitting the mold that so many in my family fit into.

...But when I finally started to fully embrace my talents and passions? That's when I was finally able to dare to dream God-sized dreams, and dare to change the world.  My interests in photography and writing?  They're just as important as the talented musicians around me...And I am so thankful for friends in my life who helped encourage and helped me excel in those talents.  I'm thankful for the friends who believed in me before I ever fully believed in myself.

Today I'd like to encourage you to take time to encourage someone around you.

Did someone rock their part in a school play?  Send them a Tweet, and tell them so!  Is there someone in your life that makes you laugh, and you're thankful for the constant joy they bring to your life?  Send them a text message, or a snap on Snapchat.  Do you know someone who struggles with their confidence, and self-esteem?  Send them an old-school, snail mail card, letting them know how beautiful they are - on the inside and out.  And if you have people who are constantly believing in you and encouraging you, send them a note and thank them for the impact they've had in your life.

Encourage someone to embrace who they are, as they are.  And if you see a talent in someone that they don't see within themselves, let me know!  Everyone could use a bit of encouragement in their day.

Be that person who believes in someone, even when they don't quite yet believe in themselves.

The Travelin' Chick,
Crystal


Follow me on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.  You can also find me on Snapchat: crystal.hodges



Monday, August 22, 2016

Embrace You: A Social Experiment and Celebration




Walking down the streets of New York City for the very first time, I noticed several artists drawing tourists in the middle of the pathways in the city.  Gazing at their artwork, I couldn't help but wonder, "If I asked them to draw me, would they include my facial, port wine stain birthmark?  Would they ask if I want it included in the image?  Or would they make that decision without asking me?"

While I didn't act on that idea in that moment, a few weeks later I found myself contacting several artists with one goal in mind: To see how many people would naturally include my birthmark in an art piece, and to see how each artist interprets it.

As I started this journey, there were only two rules that I gave each artist:

1. Each piece must remain politically neutral.
2. My character must remain modest in her attire.

Why Call this Project, "Embrace You"?

Sometimes when we look in the mirror, we don't like what we see.  We're having a bad hair day, a new pimple randomly appeared on our face over night, we've been bullied, or we've just never been friends with our reflections.

While this blog entry rooted from an idea attached to my birthmark, I've had days where I've struggled to embrace my appearance because of "normal" reasons.  My hair never wants to cooperate, I've always struggled with my weight, and while my birthmark as a whole doesn't bother me - my face isn't symmetrical because of the extra blood flow...And that's all my personal, internal dialogue going on there.  I've also been turned into a meme because of my difference, been told I'm "contagious", and was once approached about being on the shows "Too Ugly for Love"/"The Undateables".

Trust me, I get it.  It's hard.  It can be a constant, uphill battle - both internally and externally.

Yet, in the last four months, I've worked with 50 artists, and no two artists have drawn me the exact same way.  So, no matter how we see ourselves in the mirror, odds are...That's not how the rest of the world sees us.

Artists of San Francisco

To start my social experiment, I went to San Francisco.  The day I went, there were very few artists out working due to some morning rain. However, I was able to meet four different artists.  Here are the images that were created:

The first artist I met asked me if I wanted my birthmark in the image.  With a smile, I told him, "Sure!"  We talked the whole time, getting to know one another.  At some point it came up that I was  once turned into a meme - which went viral to 30 million people.  Excitedly he exclaimed, "I thought you were the meme lady!!  Wow.  I never thought I would see someone's picture online, then see them in-person, and draw them."  He is from the US, and you can follow him here on Instagram.

As this artist from Russia started drawing me, he pointed to my face and asked, "Is that permanent?  Do you want that in the drawing?"  He told me he often asks men the same question about their facial hair because "maybe they forgot to shave that day".  About 15 minutes later, he told me, "I don't know if this is rude to say or not - but it looks as though you were punched in the face." #YouShouldSeeTheOtherGuy


This artist was from China, and never brought up my birthmark.


This artist sat by the first artist mentioned above, and is also from the US.  As he listened to our conversation, he told me, "I wouldn't of asked you if you wanted it in the picture.  It's a part of your character."  So, I asked him to draw me too.


Going Online

After my interactions with the four artists in San Fransisco, I knew I needed to take this social experiment a step further.  It was time to take it online.  

Going to both Craigslist and Fiverr, I emailed several artists, asking them to draw me.  Two of the artists requested at least 5 photos, so I made a rule: every artist that draws me will receive the exact same photos.  So, I sent two photos where my birthmark is super obvious, two where it's hidden by special makeup, and one where it still shows - but the color is calmed down due to a lower-end makeup brand.  After attaching all five images, I ended each email with, "Please let me know if you have any questions!  I can't wait to see what you come up with."

I emailed 8 artists online.  In the end...
- One artist Googled me and found my blog, and quickly learned that my birthmark is something that I celebrate.
- One artist added my birthmark, without asking about it.
- Two artists asked me if I wanted my birthmark in the image.
- The rest initially left it off, until I asked them to include it.

Here are some of the images I received, and some of the stories behind them:

Many of the artists left my birthmark out of the image when they weren't told to add it.  However, I was okay with that, knowing there is so much more to me than my birthmark.  If an artist didn't include the mark without my prompting, I would ask them why.  This artist (from New Zealand), for example, explained, "You're birthmark wasn't left out intentionally (I happen to think it's beautiful), its only a part of the process in creating the art.  The style only shows the shadows that are created by outlines (hair, face, glasses) and depth of facial feature curves (mouth, eyes, nose, smile lines). If your birthmark happened to have deeper lines like a scar perhaps, then the lines would be there to show it. I certainly hope I didn't offend you - I really do happen to think you're birthmark is beautiful. :-)"

This artist from Venezuela specializes in a few different styles, one being Disney.  Going off my favorite Disney Princess, Belle, this is what was created.  And since it's based off of Belle's character, I asked him to include the book, "Looking for Lovely", which was written by one of my favorite authors, Annie F. Downs.  Looking for Lovely was written to help encourage others to search for the little lovely things in life, during the good times and the bad - which is what I've strived to do for years.  Life is too hard to dwell in the hardship, and those little lovely moments are crucial, which is a lesson I learned early due to my journey with a facial difference - and just by living every day life.  But y'all...Read. This. Book.  Find your lovely.


The cool thing about this Picasso style image is that the artist (from Argentina) included my birthmark without asking about it.  They also added purple highlights - which I sometimes have, but weren't included in any of the images I sent them.  

This artist from Venezuela originally left my birthmark off the image that she created.  Messaging her back, asking why it was left off, she explained to me, "I didn't know if you wanted your birthmark. In the beginning I wanted to make a lot of flowers on your face that represent the birthmark but I was not sure. So I just let the flower around you."  In addition, she also explained that she has a cousin who has a birthmark just like mine.  While she's never drawn her cousin, she is certain her cousin would ask her to leave off her birthmark.


A Social Experiment Turned into a Celebration

After a while I wondered how the images would differ, if I intentionally asked people to include my birthmark in their art.  What would people come up with if I asked them to celebrate the birthmark, and/or a part of my story?

Encouraging me along the way, when the artists found out about my project, several of them offered to draw my images for free and/or at a discounted rate - which was extremely kind of them, and I am forever grateful for their sweet hearts.

Interestingly enough, one artist (from Japan) left my birthmark off, even after I asked them to include it from the get-go.  Also, out of all the artists I messaged with - only one told me they did not want to be a part of my project.  When I inquired why, the artist from Spain told me, "...This is not my type of project.  My beauty in my eyes should not be the same to you, so I think I can't satisfy you in my own ways, it will be different which may worry you."  That being said, I'm not sure if they meant they didn't find my birthmark to be beautiful, or they were afraid of being given full creative rights to celebrate it without specific parameters.

Here, however, are some of the amazing pieces I did receive...

My good friend, Rick Guidotti (from the US), is a camera guru.   He's an award winning, former fashion photographer who used to photograph models, such as Cindy Crawford.  Through his organization, Positive Exposure, he now travels the world photographing people with different medical conditions, celebrating every single person he meets.  (He's even done a TEDx Talk, which you can find here.)

This was created by artist Ossain Cardenas, from the United States.  Looking me up on Instagram and here on my blog, he saw a picture of my favorite "She Will Not Be Moved" necklace and included it without any prompting.  He told me, "I felt the message on that necklace was the perfect piece to complete the portrait...I believe it gave my interpretation of your image more power."
This artist is from Serbia, and while sharing what inspired this image, she told me, "I was thinking: so what if she has a birthmark on her face, she has energy that can hold the whole universe."  Definitely a favorite!  (Okay.  Real talk.  I may say that about every piece listed here...But this one is definitely on my "top 5" list.)


While I've never given a TED Talk, it is on my God-sized dream board to do so, and it was important to me to have this image drawn.  Working with the artist, she asked me if I preferred a more realistic look, or more cartoon style.  Wanting to give her wiggle room to be as creative as she wanted, I let her pick - with the request of including one of my favorite necklaces from Natalie Grant's collection, "She Will Not Be Moved", and a bracelet from 3Strands Global - an organization fighting back against human trafficking.    This artist is from South Africa, and as it turns out, we both have TED Talk dreams!  I want to give a talk, and she wants to do animations for them.  (What are the odds I would ask an artist to create an image representing my TED Talk dream, and that they would also have a TED Talk dream too?)



In January, at an event called Dare to Be, one of my God-sized dreams turned into a God-sized reality: I shared the stage with the woman who said "yes" to speaking, so that I could say "yes".  I shared the stage with Natalie Grant, and her British pal, Charlotte Gambill. While I have a video of this moment, I don't have a good picture.  So, I asked my new friend, Sara Erb (also from California), to draw this moment for me.  Once again, I gave her freedom in how she chose to celebrate this moment, and I love what she came up with.
The sweetest 5-year-old in the world drew this picture for me.  Rayna, my cousin, drew us together by a house that "we're going to buy and live in together for forever".  It doesn't get much sweeter than that. (Rayna is from California.)

My dear friend, Brittany Echols (from Alabama), drew this piece for me.  After drawing this piece, she told me what inspired her creation, "While I was creating this piece I thought about the purpose behind the piece.  Often beauty is defined in certain terms or ideas.  It seems to be black or white.  This is beautiful, and this is not.  Beauty is often found in the most unexpected places and it's not black and white.  Beauty is often found in one-of-a-kind pieces.  Crystal Hodges is that through and through!  She is beautiful and one-of-a-kind on the inside and out!"    You can follow Brittany's blog here.

A couple of years ago, my friend Denise Nicholes, wrote a superhero story for me.  So, in turn, I thought it would be fun to have a superhero created in honor of the story Denise wrote for me.   The character's name is Amethyst, which is represented by the "A" on the shirt. And I have to say - I love the pink highlights in the hair!  (This was drawn by an artist here in the United States.)

Let's be real.  Floating books, flying pens, and a map?  This. Is. So. Me.  (This artist is from Indonesia, and she totally gets me.)

I've probably said this about all the images during the last four months, but this is definitely one of my favorites.  This artist is from the beautiful country of Uruguay, and even included my dog, Ruby.  I mean, come on, y'all...I'm a paper doll! How cool is that?  When I asked her about how most people react to being drawn, she told me, "Sometimes people want me not to draw their glasses or make them look younger, or straight hair instead of curly.  Nobody seems really happy with themselves!...I thought that you couldn´t be prettier: Your purple spot seems to me a watercolor brushstroke!!"
While I gave this artist the freedom to be as creative as she liked, I did request this image.  It took me nearly 24 years before meeting anyone with the same conditions that I have (a Port Wine Stain birthmark and Sturge Weber Syndrome), and I wanted this moment to be celebrated.  Drawn with me is my friend Sophia.  She's from Australia, and has quite the story.  To learn more about Sophia and to hear more of her story, you can find her page here on Facebook.   The artist who drew this is from Macedonia, and was excited to be a part of this project. 
This artist is from Venezuela.  This was the first time she's drawn a person in this style, and I think she did a great job!  Looking at this art piece, my friend Gabby told me, "I like that she made your face asymmetrical, since the birthmark does affect the symmetry."

Trying to figure out the right color for my fin and for the background, we talked about different possibilities.  I threw out a few colors, one being blue, since that's the color of my eyes.  The artist replied, "I liked your suggestion of blue because it helped bring out the color that makes your birthmark shine and be truly you. :)"   This talented artist is from the US, and you can follow her here on Instagram.

Drawing me in a Tim Burton style, this artist from Macedonia told me, "Like the sky, every person is beautiful.  The sky can have loads of shapes, and colors, but no matter what it's still beautiful.  Behind the clouds the sky is always clear."


This was drawn by my new friend, Bryce Westervelt, from the United States.  He told me some stories about some clients who requested to be modified so much that they became more of a "Utopian" version of themselves, after requesting some major artistic "plastic surgery."  Talking about my project, he told me, "It is, in a way, very vulnerable to allow someone else to depict you - to dare to be seen how someone else sees you." 

Harry Potter?  #YesPlease
(This was drawn by an artist from Russia.)
Okay.  So I PROMISE this was created before I found out about the Pokemon GO app.  Gotta love being a 90's kid!
(This was created by an artist from Mexico.)

Interestingly enough, while I often have jokes about color coordinating my clothes to my face/birthmark, I literally never wear orange.  Yet, so many of the artists incorporated orange into their creations - and it looks amazing.  (This artist is from Pakistan.) 
"Everything is AWESOME."
(I know - I now have the song stuck in my head too...Oops.)
This artist is from Vietnam and I love that she included my Winter Jam concert swag in this piece.

Several people have told me in the past that my birthmark looks like a heart.  Recently, an article was published about my story, which also describes it as a heart shape.  So, I thought it was interesting when this artist from Bosnia and Herzegovina saw it the same way.  
My dear friend, Anna Donahue, drew this for me.  She's 11 and drew this before ever meeting me.  This summer I had the joy of meeting her and her family last month, and hearing about Anna's journey with Spina Bifida.  (You can learn more about a nonprofit her mom, Annie Beth, started called Signposts Ministries here.)




So...What now?

I don't know where you're at in your life journey.  But please know - from your physical appearance to your talents and passions, you are beautifully (or, swaggfully, if you're a dude) and wonderfully made.  You're talented, and one of a kind.  Your dreams are worth fighting for, and you are worth more than you know.

My friend...You are a rockstar.

It's time to 'Embrace You'.

The Travelin' Chick,
Crystal

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