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How I Found the Courage to Brand Out… And Why You Should Too!

Summertime is coming and with it an explosion of ads for bikinis, flip flops, and sunblock. BUT, for the first time in my life, I’m seeing really fair, really white, really “untan” people just like me!

The reason I’m amazed is that I spent the first 18 years of my life begrudging my red hair and skin that’s been called “bright white!”

I grew up initially in a very close-knit Mexican community (que bueno!) and I spent hours with them basking with baby oil, a reflector shield, and Sun In in my hair (bonus point if you remember that product!). My goal was to look just like all of my best friends. Needless to say, the only thing I got was a 3rd degree sunburn onto which my mother applied Noxzema.

The problem? I didn’t have the courage to be me!

It wasn’t until I started working on Capitol Hill at age 18 that the qualities I hated most became the features that defined me. Senator Bob Dole called me out because of my red hair; former Speaker Tip O’Neill was convinced I was Irish (I’m not!), and new business colleagues could find me by just knowing that “I’m the redhead.”

In an era where celebrities are our new role models, it’s hard to stand your ground; it’s frustrating to see girls and even our daughters trying to dress like Kim Kardashian or boys copying the moves of Justin Bieber. But, I understand it.

Certain things cannot be changed nor should they be. It’s time to remember that we are all different – thank goodness! And, finally, we’re seeing a backlash against body shaming. Yeah! You just need to love you.

The only advice I have for you and your children is to take a moment and evaluate:

  1. What do I love about myself?

  2. What characteristics define me?

  3. What should I never change?

OK, I am officially off of my soap box and game to listen to you and your comments. Post in the comments below.

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