Self-love is a beautiful thing and is something we could all do with practising more often. I know I have struggled to love myself, my disabled body and my appearance over the years. I have let the feeling of not being enough, not looking like everyone else, overwhelm me at times. Thankfully when I decided to embrace myself and love the way I am, everything became easier. Given the challenges of looking different, how much emphasis society places on first impressions and how we can treat people who look different, it is understandable that many people who live with visible difference struggle with finding a sense of self confidence, self-love, and self-esteem. While facial expressions are not the only thing that go into a first impression, they are a pretty big element.
As Face Equality Week 2020 draws to a close, it makes me happy to introduce you to our latest storyteller, a young woman who lives with facial difference and is embracing self love, gratitude and championing facial equality and representation. Crystal’s story reassures me that there is a place for sharing stories, and that young women with disability today are more able to see themselves represented and this can only help increase the confidence in every person who looks different.
cover photo credit :Mrelbank
Tell us about yourself
My name is Crystal Marshall, I live in the UK and I’m 21 years old.
photo credit : Sophie Mayanne
What has been your journey of disability?
In 2016 I was diagnosed with a rare facial bone cancer in my upper right gum and then I had a operation to take out the tumor which left me with a visible difference. I would not call it a disability though because I’m still the same person as I was before/can do the same things it’s just taken a bit of time getting used to.
Are there things about you that people misunderstand because of your disability?
Not that anyone has told me otherwise, but if I have to guess I would say that because I am missing bone from my face that people think it means that I can’t act, sing or do public speaking anymore which (although is harder to do) with hard work I can still achieve it.
Who inspires you? Where do you get inspiration from?
Katie Piper and Nikki Lily inspires me greatly. Both are powerful woman who are amazing campaigners for the facial difference community and I just love how confident, helpful and kind they are to help promote positivity and inclusion within the community.
What does the use of the word Inspired mean to you?
To me it means when a person does something that relates to you, your life and your own personal experiences that can inspire you to make a change so that you can also help others.
Which three words would you use to describe yourself?
Caring, Supportive and witty
What is one thing, experience or person you have had that completely changed your life?
Spirituality, but to be more specific watching the Secret movie which is a law of attraction-based documentary. It explains how the power of thought, gratitude and belief is so powerful that we can manifest anything we want in our lives. I was very depressed after treatment/operation that every negative thought I had just made me feel worse about myself, however, once I started being grateful for what I did have, like my eyesight, some teeth to eat, my speech and etc I started to see the beauty within myself and then gradually so did other people. It’s a process but so far through watching that movie and the law of attraction, my life has become a lot better and I’ve gained a lot of opportunities.
Who or what has been the most significant influences on who you are today?
Nikki Lily is a young teenage girl who, regardless of her facial difference, has won a BAFTA, a Emmy award, has a successful YouTube channel, Instagram page and now clothing line at such a young age!
She truly does inspire me to live my dreams and do the things I love without listening to the negativity of others.
What’s one thing about you that surprises people?
That I’m a actress probably? Lol it’s because I think that people haven’t seen a person like me on stage, movie or TV but seeing as it’s 2020, I’m trying to change that.
For what are you most grateful today?
My mom because she has truly been there for me through thick, thin and in-between. She has been my
cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on and has always encouraged me to live out my dream and do my best. I absolutely love and admire her dearly.
photo credit : Sophie Mayanne
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
I know it’s hard, I know it sucks and I know it’s not fair but trust me when I say this will get better. More
better then you can every imagine in your life. The experience will not only make you a stronger person
and put you in a position to help many others, but anything that you wish and hoped for now – through
this it will happen for you. Just have patience and try to get through this hurdle because after this? You
will be unstoppable.
Is there something that you would like people to know about you or about people with disability that they might not know?
In public treat us like you would a friend who doesn’t have a disability or a visible difference because at the end of the day we are all human beings who just want to be treated the same as everyone else – and by doing that it goes a long way for us to be accepted to more and more people.
“In public treat us like you would a friend who doesn’t have a disability or a visible difference because at the end of the day we are all human beings who just want to be treated the same as everyone else – and by doing that it goes a long way for us to be accepted to more and more people.”
Do you have any advice or something you know that made a difference in your life journey that you would like to share with other women with disabilities?
I find that finding 5 or 10 things I’m grateful for in the morning, meditations and positive affirmations like ‘I’m beautiful’ and ‘I’m confident’ which I do every morning truly did help me a lot with coming out of depression. It’s true that at first it might seem silly and the conscious mind might argue and say ‘that’s not true’ but the more times you do it then the subconscious mind will pick up on the words and transform the feeling into belief…so you do believe it! If you try it out, you will see the positive results.
You can find out more about Crystal and follow her journey at @faceinosteosarcomax