Words Wound

I really do hope that I'm someone who steps up to lend a hand when I witness cyberbullying, no matter who it is, instead of just staying silent. I know it's the right thing. And I know it's up to me.

Phelan, 16, New Jersey

Natural Day

High school senior Sanah Jivani was first diagnosed with Alopecia at the age of three. As a result, she lost most of her hair in different areas of her head. By seventh grade all of her hair was gone. She was devastated by this and tried to cover her hair loss by wearing a wig. But soon enough her classmates found out and she quickly became the target of schoolyard and online bullies. Someone even created a "Sanah BurnPage" on Facebook. By the start of her freshmen year, she had had enough:

"A week before my freshman year began, I ditched my wig. My hands trembled as I posted a video on Facebook telling my story. I didn't know what to expect. At first, I honestly thought the world might end. I honestly thought my friends would stop being my friends and my relatives would be so ashamed that they wouldn't want to associate with me. I honestly thought what I was doing was dumb, but I did it anyway. I did it because I couldn't handle hiding who I was for a second longer. I did it because I wanted to share my story, even if my voice was shaking. I did it for me, and no one else. The moment I clicked 'post,' I was set free. Tears filled my eyes and panic filled my hearts moments afterwards, but I didn't regret it one bit. I knew that this was the first step to loving myself completely. I knew that this fifteen seconds of insane courage would change everything. Most importantly, I knew I no longer was going to hide, and a huge burden was suddenly lifted off my chest."

Sanah took this experience even farther by partnering with her best friend to start "Natural Day" at her school. They intentionally chose February 13th (the day before Valentines Day) to highlight the important of being able to "love yourself before you can love others." "Everybody has a 'wig' whether it is their hair, make-up, or something deeper than physical, such as a past story that haunts them. Natural Day is about letting go of all of that. It's about being free, and learning to love yourself the way I learned to love myself. And that's exactly what I wanted for the students of my high school." Today Natural Day is celebrated in schools all around the world!