Being “different” is difficult in today’s society. Different is seen as weird. Different is seen as defective. Different is seen as ugly. But, two British parents have worked to reshape the stigma that comes along with being “different”.
18-month-old Honey-Rae Phillips was born with birthmark that has grown with her and is now on half of her entire right side of her body. This birthmark was a result and side effect from the medical difficulties Honey-Rae had experienced right after birth. The mother, Tanya Phillips, says that Honey-Rae had a very hard time breathing when she was first born and was immediately sent to the special care unit of the hospital. Honey-Rae had spent the first couple of months in a little glass incubator that broke her parent’s hearts. Tanya was heartbroken, aware of the difficulties her child would go through because her mark would make her “different” for the rest of her life. Honey-Rae’s parents knew exactly how mean some people could be. They knew Honey-Rae would get those judgmental stares, and it broke their hearts. “I couldn’t imagine having to go through what the parents did. Knowing that their daughter will be treated differently for something as superficial as a birthmark.” Wendy Perez (11).
The Phillips always had Honey-Rae in long pants whenever they went out in order to avoid the judgmental and pitying stares from strangers. When Honey-Rae did wear shorts for the first time last summer, many people would stop, stare, and whisper about their child’s birthmarks. The Phillips knew that if adults could act this way, other children would be a hundred times worse, even though they would not necessarily be intentionally mean. It was the feeling of isolation that the Phillips feared most about for their daughter.
The Phillips decided to get exact replicas of their daughter’s birthmark tattooed onto them so she would not feel alone. The tattoos will also serve as a constant reminder to Honey-Rae of her parent’s unconditional love and support. Adam, Honey-Rae’s dad got his replica tattoo last Christmas as a present from his wife. Then, for Tanya’s birthday, Adam decided to get her the replica tattoo as a birthday present. “Wow, a lot of people can learn from these parents. The dedication to making sure their loved one feels safe.” Darshan Patel (11).
Tanya says, “… it was worth every second of the pain. When the swelling went down, I showed Honey-Rae, and she gently touched it and smiled as she said ‘match,’ pointing to her own leg.”
Honey-Rae now loves to touch and stare at her parents matching marks and compare it to her own. The Phillips claimed that the tattoos were worth the price, so that her daughter never feels different or isolated ever again.
Mustangs, words, stares, and whispers can hurt. So, lets work to put a stop towards any feeling of isolation or any animosity to being “different”. Lets embrace the “different”. Lets all be perfectly imperfect in our own perfect little ways.