Model: Chelsea Bear
I’m a 27-year-old Florida native, a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University, a professional in public relations, a blogger, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a world traveler, a representative of comedic relief, and lastly, just 1 in 764,000 people in the United States who was born with Cerebral Palsy.
“Grin and Bear It” is a term I’ve always been drawn to. Beyond my last name being Bear, the meaning behind these words happen to align with my outlook on life despite the adversities I face by living with a physical disability. I truly believe that my disability has influenced my life’s path to see the positive side of each situation, and I constantly strive to be an example to not only myself, but to anyone I cross paths with, that it is possible to accomplish anything you set your mind to no matter the circumstance.
Initially I struggled with how I wanted to be photographed. Looking at myself in an image, you typically can’t tell that I have a disability, so I was challenged with the decision of whether or not I should incorporate my walker or scooter solely so the viewer could tell that I was “different”. Then, after a conversation with my photographer, I realized I just needed to do something that makes me feel comfortable and beautiful as I portray myself. Being a lover of the beach and water, doing a photoshoot at sundown, with a simple boardwalk besides me to lean on, felt the most natural to me.
Bold Beauty gives people with varying disabilities a platform to feel comfortable in their own skin. This organization ignites a powerful conversation that goes much further than the physical aspect of an individual. It dives deeper into who a person is and what they stand for, and most importantly represents what it means to persevere no matter what life throws your way. I mention this in my statement because I am extremely passionate about spreading this message and upholding the essence of what being part of something much larger than myself demonstrates.
This experience has reminded me what it means to be beautiful in my own skin. It is my hope that as humans we each take the time to learn who a person is at their core, and that we look further than what is physically displayed or on the surface. By simply shifting our mindset, we can embrace the beauty that is around us.
Photographed by Patty Nash