I’m Harley and I’m a twenty-three year old model of Persian descent from London. Considering what I do for a living, and how carefree and laid back I come across, people I meet would rarely guess that I was painfully shy when I was younger, and tend not to believe me when I insist that I was an awkward geek with severe acne, a uni-brow and poor social skills.
Growing up is never easy, but with your “friends” and classmates making constant negative remarks about your features, it’s even tougher. I am not ashamed to admit that I felt like an outsider at school and went to extreme lengths to try to fit in; I remember literally scrubbing half the skin from my face off after the boys at school made comments about my spots, and attacking my hair with thinning shears so that it would be easier to iron straight. After all the damage I insisted on putting my face and body through, I still never felt like I would ever be popular, or pretty enough, or confident enough – or ANYTHING enough – and it wasn’t until very recently that I just stopped caring what people thought and became comfortable with the way I looked.
I think it’s extremely important to remind our friends, sisters, and daughters that there is nothing wrong with being different – in fact, be as different as you can! Our features are a part of our identity and we should never try to change them just so that we can be what other people have told us is “beautiful”. It’s equally important to ensure that our children do not become one of the bullies who make another child feel isolated because they are different in some way. I sometimes wonder what the parents of those children would have thought if they’d known how difficult they had made my life just for their own entertainment. And I also wonder what these children at school would think if they could see how happy and confident I am now.
I can honestly say that I am glad it all happened and I would never want to change a thing about my youth, because every single thing that occurred shaped me to become who I am today, and I am truly comfortable with the way that I am. I’ve grown as a person in so many ways and it shows in all different aspects of my life; I never thought in a million years that I would be confident enough to apply for a modelling agency, let alone stand in front of an audience being photographed. Another point to note is that since I stopped messing around with my hair and applying all sorts of damaging dyes and heat, it has become thicker, healthier and extremely long; and now that I take proper care of my skin, I no longer have problems with it. My only regret is that I did not realise sooner that there is nothing special about being like everybody else. I will make sure that my future daughter understands this too!