ST. LOUIS – For parents or young students worried about bullying during the new school year – meet Robert Hoge.
An author and motivational speaker, Hoge has written a book called Ugly. It's the story of what it's like to grow up with a disability. Ugly is the account of Robert's life from his birth to the arrival of his daughter.
Robert was born with a large tumor on his forehead. His facial features were severely distorted and his legs were twisted and useless. According to his website, Robert's mother refused to look at him, or bring him home.
"I was born with a massive tumor in the middle of my face. It formed early during my development. It consumed my nose and pushed my eyes to the side of my head; like a fish. I also had two deformed legs. Of course, being my age, my mom didn't have a scan before I was born. She expected a perfectly healthy baby and instead she got me. So, I had a lot of surgeries and a lot of challenges growing up."
"I wasn't much good at sports because I had two artificial legs. I would always get chosen, not last, but second last. I think some of the kids would get in trouble if they chose me last. Second last was, funny," Hoge said.
So how should kids deal with accepting themselves and others?
"We should stop trying to convince kids that their appearance doesn't matter by pretending that differences in appearances don't exist. Kids have a whole range of appearance, they look different and that is OK. We should not pretend that everyone looks the same because they don't.
"How we look is part of who we are, we can't hide that. But it does not define all of us. That is what I tell kids. They should not try to pretend that they are not who they are. They are also defined by the sports they like and the books they read and the other interests they have got; not just by how they look," said Robert Hoge.
After making it through the tough years when children can be so heartless, KTVI asked Hoge if he ever gets bullied now.
"I get some strange looks from some adults from time to time. But, no, not really," said Robert Hoge.
His book focuses on the love and support of his family and how they helped him overcome incredible hardships.
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