Most teenage girls are thinking about boys, friends and school, wondering what to wear to the movies that weekend and hoping their parents don’t notice the black nail polish on their toes.
For 14-year-old Aiesha Ross, she thinks none of those thoughts. Her thoughts revolve around the colostomy bag she will wear for the rest of her life, wondering which outfit best hides it and experiencing grief over the fact she can’t wear a bikini like her peers.
Ross has spent her entire life just wanting to be normal. As many young and impressionable teenage girls believe, she thinks that by fitting into society’s idea of normal she would be protected from the bullies who have relentlessly teased her all her life. The sad reality is that bullies will always find something to tease you about, however Ross would probably prefer to be teased for anything else other than her medical condition.
Aiesha Ross was born without an anus or rectum, as well as cloacal abnormalities that damaged the nerves in her spine. UK newspaper Metro explains that these nerves control her bowel and bladder, which means she has no control over them and has to wear a colostomy bag, using a tube to empty her bladder. She has one kidney and has a vaginal pouch thanks to surgical intervention, however has no uterus or cervix.
She will never carry her own children.
Aiesha Ross has recently come to the world's attention after a video of her delivering a powerful speech called "The New Normal" was posted on YouTube by her mother Louise Elliot. The proud mum posted the video in October of this year along with this statement:
This a video of my courageous daughters speech that she performed at her school speech competition and won. She has struggled her whole life with bullies and not being "normal" because of a medical condition that is invisible to most people (to anybody that doesn't know her you wouldn't know anything was wrong with her). This speech is about her life and the struggles she has had to fit in and feel "normal". She wants to be "the new normal". I hope this video helps inspire other people that are struggling to feel normal to be courageous and proud of who they are, and to join "the new normal".Advertisement
The New Zealand teen delivers the speech to her classmates, describing her condition, the bullying she has endured and the challenges she faces each day.
She says, "Being normal is doing things everyone else does. Normal things like going on sleepovers, going on camps, going on trips and going swimming are easy things for you to do but not so easy for me. See, I have to take precautions for everything. And at our age, wearing a bikini is normal, going to sleepovers is normal, to not have to live life wondering whether you will have a husband is normal."
You can watch Aiesha Ross' full speech here.
"Now let me explain how this affects my not-so-normal life."
"I haven't been able to go on school camps unless I have a parent or teacher with me. I can't go to sleepovers because I'm not normal. I'm always wondering if I'll even have a husband or children when I'm older, because I'm not normal. I'm in and out of hospital because I'm not normal."
Then she goes on to describe the bullying she's had to endure.
"I'm sure everyone in this room has had some kind of bully in their life. Well, so have I. I'm bullied on a daily basis. I'm called disgusting, weird and ugly. I'm looked down upon because I can't have my own children, because I'm not normal. I wear clothes that cover my stomach because I'm not normal."
"I am teased from my own brothers and sisters because I am not normal."
And if that's not heart-breaking enough, she then goes on to describe her darkest moments.
"Sometimes I do think people would probably be better off without me, because no one would have to deal with my problems and issues." She starts to cry before going on to say, "But if I have to put up with myself every day, then so do you." At this stage her classmates laugh with her, and we get a sense of his young girl's strength behind the suffering.
Still, she doesn't want pity.
"Please don't take pity on me or treat me differently," she asks, "because I am not different, I am unique."
It's then that she delivers her most powerful message of all, a message that all teenage girls need to hear.
"There is no such thing as being normal. I am so sick of being compared to others, who are so-called "normal". I am sick and tired of being treated differently because "I'm not normal". I am so sick and tired of the old "normal"."
"Please take a stand and make a new normal."