The Little Things: True beauty is more than skin deep


By KELLY PRESTON, Special to The Paper

There is one thing I’ve come to realize about our daughter’s skin condition.  It is totally unpredictable.

Even though I’m a nurse, ichthyosis often stumps me.

I knew when we adopted our daughter from China in 2013 that there would be a lot to learn about ichthyosis, a rare genetic skin condition.  I have learned A LOT, however, there are still things that stump me.

For some reason, beyond my understanding, there are times when our daughter’s skin looks much worse than at other times.   It becomes extra dry and extra scaly, and the scales are very visible … very.

Hence the stares.

It feels at times that they never stop.

Most of the time, our daughter’s skin does not cause her any pain, but the stares from other people are bound to.

As her mom, my first reaction has often been to try to protect our daughter from the stares.  Although she doesn’t even know people are staring, there will come a day soon that our daughter will realize people stare at her … and I won’t always be there to protect her.

However, while at Six Flags a couple of years ago having a blast together as a family, my perspective on this began to change.

While my daughter and I were in line for her favorite “Canyon Blaster” roller coaster, it was obvious that some people were staring at her.  It was in that moment that I sensed a change in my heart about having to protect her from the stares.

People will stare, and I shouldn’t shield her from this.  Rather, I will love her through it and teach her to stand strong.

So in that moment, I picked her up, held her tightly and whispered in her ear, “I love you so much!”

And then we rode the coaster with our hands held high, laughing the whole way.

I have no explanation for why our daughter’s skin looks better one day and worse the next.

But here are a few things I do know:

I know that due to our daughter’s skin condition she doesn’t sweat at all, so we have to be very mindful of her getting overheated.

I know that I don’t owe any person that stares an explanation for her red or scaly skin.

I have no reasonable, healthy, or sane explanation as to why our society is so darn obsessed with outward appearances.

I have no doubt in my mind that our Chinese-American daughter knows she is loved by her family.

And as her understanding of being loved by her family grows, I pray she will come to a deep understanding of God’s love for her.

It is by this foundation of love that our daughter will have the ability to laugh and raise her hands in victory when people stare, believing this truth:

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~I Samuel 16:7

No longer do I feel the need to shield our daughter from the stares because her skin, her beautiful, unique skin, is part of who she is … only a small part.

And if there is one little thing our daughter can help teach others, it is this – true beauty is definitely more than skin deep.


Kelly Preston is a nurse-turned-stay-at-home-mom to four amazing and energetic children. Though she sometimes forgets to buy toilet paper amidst their busy schedules, Kelly finds time to run RACE for the Orphans, a non-profit focused on supporting adoptive families. She loves Jesus, people, a really good book, and pondering the little things.

1 comment

  1. Christy Hindsman 17 March, 2021 at 21:37 Reply
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    Thank you for sharing. Jenna is absolutely beautiful inside and out!

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