CORNER BROOK Katie Barrow wants to be a role model for other people with facial differences, especially girls.
“I know how hard it is to be judged,” said the 19-year-old Corner Brook woman who is representing Newfoundland in the 2014 Miss Canada Globe competition.
Barrow said she’d like others to see that they can be born with a facial difference and still be considered beautiful.
“It doesn’t change the person you are ... and that makes us unique.”
Barrow was born with a cleft lip that has required a few surgeries over the years. The first one occurred when she was just 12 weeks old and she will need another in the near future.
“Being born with a facial difference, I grew up with a lot of bullying and I was judged on the way I looked,” she said. “That’s why I got teased because I was so different from everybody else.”
With support from her parents, Donna and Kevin, she said she was able to ignore it for the most part. But there were times when more intervention was needed.
Once, her mother arranged to have the children in her class educated on facial differences. Another time a bully had to be taken to task for her actions. Barrow’s mom still has the letter of apology the girl had to write.
When she was 12, Barrow started attending Camp Trailblazers in St. John’s. The camp is organized by About Face, an organization that works with people with facial differences.
It was there that Barrow learned more about how to cope with the bullying and teasing.
“Going to camps every summer, I’ve built more and more confidence so the bullying didn’t bother me as much,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
This past year, Barrow completed a leadership program with the organization that will now see her return to camp this summer as a volunteer and role model for others.
Her involvement with About Face has even affected her career choice.
Barrow is currently studying psychology at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland and hopes to become a counsellor working with children who are being bullied.
Barrow learned of the Miss Canada Globe competition from Meghan House. The young Deer Lake woman placed fourth at this year’s Miss Canada Globe in September.
“When I heard Meghan was scouting more people for the competition this year, I decided that I wanted to do it because I wanted to basically get my story out there,” she said. “Because when most people look at these competition-like pageants they just think of outer beauty, and I think there’s much more to it than beauty because it’s what’s on the inside that counts.”
Barrow said to be a part of the competition has nothing to do with your height or your weight and participants can be from anywhere and have any cultural background.
Barrow is excited that she was selected to represent the province.
Leading up to the competition, which will take place next August in Toronto, she’ll be doing a lot to get her story out and raise the $3,000 needed to attend.
She has set up a Facebook page.
“The more likes I get on it, the more chances that I can be in the top 10.”