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Born with a birth mark on her face, Rozella Marie, a musician from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian was often ridiculed for her looks.
Recounting her childhood, Rozella told World of Buzz:
“Growing up, I’ve always struggled with the way I look.
“It was such a battle that I kept to myself most of the time because I was afraid of getting bullied.
“Kids used to be really mean and used call me all sorts of names like Two-Face (a supervillain from Batman) or Strawberry.”
Rozella said that she had always wanted to be a musician ever since she was a child, but she has held reservations about performing on stage and left her dreams behind.
A few years ago, she suddenly realised how unhappy she was at being unable to pursue what she loves.
Deciding to finally face her fears, Rozella delved into her music career.
“The more I made music and the more I performed, the more I learned how to accept myself.”
However, the journey had not been a bed of roses.
Rozella would be wrecked with anxiety and suffer panic attacks before her shows.
“I would be in tears, I couldn't speak, and sometimes I would want to throw up.
“It was really bad, but I pushed myself every time to get on stage and that somehow helped me build my confidence.
“It took me about two years to finally be able to get on stage and actually be comfortable with it.”
In 2015, Rozella and a friend started a platform intended to empower and inspire individuals with physical, mental, or emotional characteristics which are considered desirable by societal norms.
True Complexion’s Facebook features stories of these unique individuals and has inspired countless.
The organisation also actively collaborates with others, such as the Pink Ribbon Wellness Foundation to help share stories of breast cancer survivors.
Asked why she started True Complexion, Rozella replied:
“I wanted to create a platform where it was okay to be different and it’s okay to celebrate that.”
Rozella feels that people in this day and age often lack real human connections and being able to sit down and chat with individuals is emotionally rewarding.
In light of her achievements, Rozella was invited to share her story at TED x Youth KL this year.
Rozella said she hopes her project will ultimately inspire and motivate other going through a tough time to keep going:
“For me, if what we do touches even one person, our job is done.
“If someone who is having a bad day or is about to give up on life just reads our stories and decides to turn things around and give themselves a second chance, then we’ve achieved what we came here to do.”