These days, it seems like we’re bombarded from all sides with messages about how we should look. But one little girl is making it her mission to remind people that looking different is beautiful.
Destiny Strickland is 11 years old. She has a rare medical condition called amniotic band syndrome. The condition caused significant birth defects and as a result, she knows what it’s like to have people stare at her when she goes out in public.
Her grandmother, Lisa Brown, said she always had the intense urge to protect Destiny from the cruel comments, even those that were well-intentioned.
“The reactions I got from some people, even adults, it broke my heart,” said Brown. “If I could have just taken her to an island and kept her away from all of that, I would have.”
But to her amazement, her granddaughter doesn’t feel the same way. Instead, the little girl is determined to reach out to others and show them that being different is beautiful.
Destiny is intensely confident and wasn’t afraid when it was time to start school.
She started her school year with energy and excitement, looking forward to making friends.
Her teachers had spoken to her classmates beforehand about Destiny’s condition. To her and her grandmother’s delight, she was greeted by dozens of notes from students in every class.
“She goes into her desk, and there’s cards from students in kindergarten through fifth grade everywhere, welcoming her and saying, ‘I want to be your friend,’” Brown said. “It was just so awesome.”
Now, Destiny has started to share her story with the rest of the world.
That’s where her YouTube channel and website began — an online effort now called “Different is Beautiful.”
Destiny posted a photo of herself with a series of notes to introduce herself to the World Wide Web.
“Hi I’m Destiny,” said the notes. “I’m 10 years old in 4th grade and I was born different. I love my family and most importantly I love myself.”
Now, her website serves to tell her story and reach out to others who also look different.
“We are all different,” reads the website’s homepage. “We are all beautiful. We all have a purpose. We all want acceptance.”
Destiny has drawn inspiration from her own heroes, including characters from Disney movies and YouTube content creators.
As for her grandmother, Brown hopes that Destiny’s testimony will encourage people to teach their children to reach out to those who are different.
“You can’t assume that your kids know to go offer to be a friend,” said Brown. “You can’t assume that they’re not scared of somebody different.”
Destiny has already undergone 31 surgeries.
Amniotic band syndrome is a condition that occur in utero when strands from the amniotic sac wrap around parts of the baby’s body. This might be on a small scale, such as around a few fingers or toes. However, it can also be more significant, leading to oxygen being cut off to various parts of the body.
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