#StandBeautiful with Chloe Howard

Last February, we caught up with a young Springer who has big message. Chloe. In her past, Chloe Howard was assaulted because of a foot deformity. Now, at age 15, she aims help people embrace their brokenness and see their imperfections as beautiful. Read on below to hear more about the bravery Chloe has exhibited and the path that’s led her to share her mission on at a Global Scale.

Who are you?

My name is Chloe Howard, and I am fifteen. I was born with a Clubfoot and only three toenails. I was assaulted last year because of my deformity. My life has been hard at times — but I won’t let that stop me. I want to empower people of all ages to embrace their uniqueness and boldly face their beautiful selves. I’m going to change the world.

The handwriting on her foot above is her own, and is often handwritten over the scar on her foot.

What does “Stand Beautiful” mean to you? What do you want it to communicate to others?

The message of “Stand Beautiful” is that you are beautiful. The parts of us that society looks at and deems ugly, weird, or abnormal make us unique. Our differences make us who we are — and that person should be celebrated. I think it’s time to re-define normal. Some people say I don’t look normal, but the way my deformed foot looks is normal to me. It’s my reality. And that’s just it — “normal” doesn’t exist. We all have a part of us that is irregular, dysfunctional, or malformed — whether it’s on the exterior or interior. We all have separate realities; a different “normal”. Why put so much time and effort making yourself into the cookie-cutter standard of “normal” when you are perfect in your own special and unique way?

I want to empower people of all ages to embrace their uniqueness and boldly face their beautiful selves. This small step has the potential to change the world, one person at a time. By wearingBeautiful, we are reminded of our true beauty and what it means to embrace our uniqueness. Just like I wrote the word “beautiful” over my scar after my assault, we can remind ourselves that our differences are actually beautiful when we wear “Beautiful”.

What advice would you share with those who have been bullied?

Being bullied is really tough. I should know. It’s really important after being bullied to take time to heal. It took me six months of once-a-week therapy and an entire summer of reflection to just come to terms and fully accept what happened. So, I guess that’s the first thing; take the time to process and heal. Also — the bullies aren’t necessarily the “bad guys”. They’re probably hurting too. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing the perpetrators of my assault weren’t feeling the best about themselves, and wanted attention, or wanted people to like them; and that might be why they bullied me. I’m not saying be best friends with your bully — don’t make yourself vulnerable more than you need to be, but be kind. It’s really, really hard to do. I’m still struggling with it. But, I think it’s really important to take into consideration what the bullies might be going through. And there’s always that saying, “Those who have been bullied often become bullies themselves”. Finally, never ever doubt your self-worth. After my assault I felt used, and worthless, and gross, and ugly, and not special at all. I didn’t ever harm myself or want to end my life, but I’m pretty sure I had some depression creeping up on me. I felt bad about myself and my body, and doubted my self-worth. So don’t do that! Feeling bad about yourself doesn’t fix anything! It just makes it worse. You are awesome, and beautiful, and special, and worth it. Please please please don’t doubt yourself like I did.

How did sharing your story with Bono help you think differently about your personal experiences and the impact you can have on others?

Before meeting Bono and telling him about my assault, it was just one of my many hard life experiences. After sharing my story with Bono and hearing him tell me that my voice is powerful and that it can represent the voices of those who can’t speak for themselves, I was changed. I realized that my assault wasn’t just some stinky horrible thing that happened in my life. It has given me an opportunity to share my life with others. It has given me the strength and courage necessary to open up to people, and to take scary opportunities, like talking and meeting new people, that I probably wouldn’t have taken otherwise. Bono also shared with me his family prayer, which is, “I am available for work”. That is meaningful to me and I’ve been working on that; making myself available to the work that comes my way. After meeting Bono, I felt something inside me shift and I realized I wanted to share my story with others.

What motivates you? Inspires you?

I’m inspired by young people that show a passion and drive for something powerful. I think that’s a lesson we can all apply to our lives — if you’re passionate about something, do something about it! I heard a story from a friend once, where she and her family were on a beach during low tide and many fish were washed up on the shore. There seemed like there were hundreds of fish struggling to get back into the water, but the tide was so low that they couldn’t make it without help. There was an older man picking the fish up one by one and tossing them back into the water. My friend walked up to him and jokingly asked, “Why are you even trying? There are so many fish, it’s not possible to throw them all back and save them!” The man replied, “Even if I just save one fish’s life, just one, then it’ll be worth the effort”. Whether this story is true or not, I think it’s pretty powerful — it motivates me. The thought that maybe me sharing my story with others can change one person, just one, is worth it.

How did you find out about Teespring?

My dad! He showed me a mock-up of a t-shirt with “beautiful” (in my handwriting!) on it, and I was in awe. I was like, “Oh my gosh dad this is awesome! What how when where huh?!” And he laughed and told me about Teespring.

Why did you want to start a Teespring campaign?

To raise awareness for STAND Beautiful (standbeautiful.me) and to give people the opportunity to wear “beautiful” on their sleeve (literally!). I think that when we see positive words on or around things we don’t like, we begin to associate those positive words with that thing — and slowly start believing that connection. I, in the sadness after my assault, wrote “beautiful” over the scar of my deformed foot, and after writing and writing it every day it slowly began to stick. Now I know that my foot is beautiful and formed perfectly just like me! I want to give other people the opportunity for that self-realization and transformation.

Your campaign proceeds benefit the charity “old skool café.” Why did you choose this organization? What impact do you hope the charitable donation will have?

I am passionate about causes that encourage the transformation from brokenness. Old Skool Cafe does this well, as they take at-risk youth, give them a job and then teach life skills; “teaching them how to fish rather than just giving them a fish”. I am broken and am going through a transformation, so I have empathy for those who are experiencing similar things. I hope that the donations will give Teresa Goines, the founder of Old Skool Café, the opportunity to improve the restaurant space they currently occupy, to help the restaurant’s difficult financial situation, and to provide awareness for Old Skool so they can keep changing the lives of the youth.

What ideas do you have for future Teespring campaigns?

I don’t know, but I’m excited to see what the future has in store! I love socks, though. Do you have any socks that can be ‘Beautiful’? I think that would be pretty awesome.

Support Chloe’s #StandBeautiful mission by grabbing her tee HERE!

Extra Special — check out Chloe’s latest #StandBeautiful achievement — sharing her story at TEDX!