Wendy Helm, 52
My brokenness now makes my beauty, because I can’t hide from it. I could have spent the last ten years trying to find the money to fix my face, but now I’m more inclined to feel my beauty. I’ve learned that it is more of an internal experience rather than an external experience.
Bell’s palsy massively knocked my confidence and self-worth. People stare at me on the street because they think my face is different and they see my eyes blinking. People can be very mean. One of the hardest things is that I notice everyone smiling, and because my smile is very crooked, I actually practise not smiling. But not smiling doesn’t help my self-esteem either, because when we smile lots of things go on in the body and it actually contributes to making us happy.
Beauty is a life-long project of self-acceptance, a journey – we always want what we can’t have, but actually we can be anything. I’ve learned to accept myself; I am the sum total of me, nothing more, and that is what makes me beautiful. I think my energy and presence comes across – it’s a feeling.
I look at people and always find things that are amazing about them. I’m the kind of person who will randomly say on the tube, ‘you look great’ or ‘what a beautiful face you have’ and it shocks people to give them compliments. People can be surprised when you tell them they look lovely.