An amazing encounter opened Chloe’s eyes to the true meaning of beauty!
After being bullied and mocked by her peers for having a clubfoot, Chloe Howard plunged into a world of shame . . . until an amazing encounter opened her eyes to how she could make a difference
“When you live with an open heart, unexpected, joyful things ” happen. OPRAH WINFREY
Hope blossomed inside 14-year-old Chloe Howard’s heart as a group of freshman girls beckoned her to join their lunch table. But as she sat down, one of the girls blurted, “Chloe, take off your shoe.” “What?” Chloe’s voice snagged. “Take off your shoe,” the girl repeated, turning to the giggling onlookers. In a blur, a few girls held her arms as another snatched off her left shoe and sock exposing Chloe’s foot covered in scars, with five tiny toes… four of which had no toenails. Chloe had always seen her foot as special— as proof of all that she’d overcome.
But as the girls gaped in shock, Chloe’s eyes burned with tears of humiliation, hurt . . . and shame.
When Chloe was born, her parents had known their beautiful baby girl would have to be a fighter. Doctors had explained that Chloe has a congenital deformity called clubfoot, where her left foot was upside down and rotated backwards. By the age of 14, Chloe had endured five major operations that helped her walk, but resulted in severe scarring.
“Just remember your foot is beautiful,” Chloe’s mother would always tell her. “God made you this way for a reason.”
“My foot is my superpower!” Chloe would chime back. But those words had disintegrated that November day of 2014. “It’s okay to transfer schools,” her dad said, seeing Chloe growing sad and isolated. No, I won’t run away, she thought. I have to prove to myself that I’m strong. In the coming months, with the loving support of her family and her church youth group, Chloe fought to regain her self-esteem. One night, she wrote the word beautiful across a jagged scar on her foot. Everyone is flawed in some way, but it’s our flaws that make us beautiful, she thought as she looked at the word. I want others to know this . . . but how? To lift her spirits, Chloe’s father entered her in a contest to see her favorite band, U2, in concert. She was ecstatic when she won— and even got to meet the band’s lead singer, Bono. Backstage, her dad introduced Chloe to Bono, saying she had an amazing story to tell. Leaning on crutches due to another recent surgery, Chloe mustered the courage to share about her clubfoot, the bullying, and how his single “Invisible,” inspires her to speak out. “When your words are right, true and good, your voice is like a punch,” Bono replied. “Not a physical punch, but a verbal punch supported by the voices of many.” In that moment, something stirred deep inside Chloe. This is why God made me this
Love is the answer
Determined for her voice to make a difference, Chloe founded the Stand Beautiful movement to inspire kids to love themselves just the way they are, and she began to speak about bullying and the power of self-acceptance at schools. Her message became such a powerful “punch,” she was asked to join forces with Cure.org, a nonprofit organization providing medical and emotional support to children with congenital deformities.
“When you said everyone has some form of brokenness, it truly connected with me,” a teen told her through tears.
Another student shared, “My friend was bullied and was suicidal, but after you shared your story, she’s doing so much better.”
Chloe even helped one woman finally make peace with the bullying she’d endured as a girl more than 30 years earlier.
Today, 18-year-old Chloe, continues to share her message of acceptance and has written the new book, Stand Beautiful. “God makes us each beautiful in our own way,” Chloe smiles. “By first loving ourselves, we can better love others . . . and by loving others we can better love ourselves. I invite everyone to stand beautiful with me!”
— Diane Nichols way, she realized. This is why I went through the pain— so I can help others see their beauty!