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An Open Letter To A Memorable Gawker

Do you remember when you first noticed my freakish appearance while I was in line at the merry-go-round with my boys? Pardon the cliche - you couldn't take your eyes off me. But credit to you for keeping your head pointed straight ahead as you maintained your gawk with a sideways stare as you walked by.

Good job also for being ultra discreet in siding up to your BFF, eyes forward but head tilted toward her ear. It wasn't obvious at all that you were telling your BFF not to look right now, but in about five seconds, take a look at 6 o'clock for the Chink albino with sunscreen caked over every last inch of his face and neck.

Five, four, three, two...uh...well, hello there, yes, it's me that your friend wanted you to check out so that the two of you could share a good chuckle and have something awesome to Facebook. And by the way, not that it matters, I'm Korean, not Chinese, though these boys whose hands I'm holding are my sons, and they're Chinese-Korean. Yes, incredibly, someone actually married me despite my patches of skin depigmentation, and the reality is that it's about as fascinating for me to see the two of you snickering about my appearance as it is for you to discover someone who is disgusting enough to make you LOL. By the way, when you tilt your heads back just so while you snort about the way I look, your ponytails wave and shimmer in ways that make you look especially beautiful - if this commentary on your appearances is inappropriate, please know that I am fully aware that I will never look as lovely as the two of you - I just thought you might enjoy knowing that someone noticed how wonderful your hair is. But I digress.

The truth is, you don't have to whisper about me. Like anyone else who has years of experience looking especially unusual - like those with large birthmarks, burns, scars, skin conditions, excess weight, atypical clothing for western society - I totally get the instinct to stare. When it's agonizingly hot and humid, I don't want to wear track pants, a long sleeve shirt, a huge sun hat, and a heavy layer of titanium dioxide wherever depigmented skin is exposed, but I wear these things because I want to be a regular dad who plays tennis with his kids and takes them to Canada's Wonderland, all while doing what I can to protect my health so I can be around for my family as long as possible.

So yes, I know I look very different. I know that it's natural to have caught your eye. I don't mind you staring and trying to figure out why I look the way that I do. In fact, I don't even mind if you come up and ask me why the stifling clothes, why the thick layer of sunscreen, and even what my skin condition is. If it's natural for little ones to be curious about my appearance and ask about it, I figure it's natural for grown-ups as well.

But you really ought to know that the whole routine of whispering to a companion to not look now, but when you get a chance, check that out is fully noticed and felt by people like me. Actually, I have to thank you for doing just what you did, because a few minutes after you pointed your noses high in the air while giggling about me, I was inspired to write this open letter to people like you who don't have the experience of being gawked at for being less-than-pleasing to the eyes.

I have to give you credit once again, as that same day when our paths crossed, of the many dozens of people who were intrigued by my physical shell, a good handful actually yelled out to their friends while pointing at me with urgency - hey, quick, look at that before it disappears into the crowd! These people behaved like I was a gorilla who had just escaped from the zoo and was about to wander into Muir Woods, while your discretion spared me of that feel of being a public spectacle.

And one last thank you for now, because the way you handled our brief encounter gives me more appreciation for people who try to treat those of us who don't want to standout like we're nothing too horrific to look at, even when they are a bit startled by our peculiarities. For the group of us who are used to being gawked at, few things in life are more heart-warming than a kind glance from a stranger. Your all-in-good-fun mockery of me in front of my wife and children fills me with immense gratitude for people who walk with thoughtfulness, decency, and compassion.


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Dr. Ben, No rant. This is said with finesse.

wow, i felt from the start that there was something genuine and very worthwhile about you, that's partly why i didn't hesitate to sign up for your newsletter, that and my interest in naturopathic medicine, but after reading your blog i see that you have an advanced perception of things.
I have come to understand that pain is the great motivator. It sharpens our edge of understanding bringing us closer and closer to true blissful awareness.
as more and more people wake up, little by little, to their true self and all there is then displays of ignorance such as you described in your blog will stand our more and more as just what they are, and embarrassing admission of insensitivity and ignorance. so, it is all coming together.

I don't care what your appearance is are one of my favorites people and we've never met.
I pray I have done a good job of teaching my children that we are all different physically, but remotely related somehow, somewhere and our hearts beat together. I applaude your boldness and just found one more reason to like you more than I already did.

I just wanted to agree with what the person above said.....human nature, alas, makes us all notice difference, but we learn to look beyond and see the real person. Good luck and keep well.I like your way of reaching out to people in a world obsessed with money...and appearances.

Thank you for the many excellent health tips you have provided me with. I cannot afford to have medical insurance, so I deeply treasure your free quality information. As to looks, these gawkers will face the music as they get older and suffer each day when they look at themselves in the mirror and see the consequences of the passage of time because to them the external is virtually everything...and they are probably right about that because they don't have much inside. Losing something you have always had, and consequently taken for granted, is far worse than not having ever experienced it at all. Greetings from São Paulo, Brazil.

Beautifully said Paulo!! Having been in the Healthcare field for a long time with extensive time spent in the critical care areas, it is a breath of fresh air to have discovered Dr. Kim! His approach to those he gives his advise to is excellent, conservative and effective!! For me, a simple "thank you" doesn't seem adequate enough to thank him for his time and sharing of such treasured information!! I suppose we are all occasionally made aware of those around us that lack empathy and the simple values of decent public behavior! And yet at the same time, we meet wonderful people who have character and values that enhance our own and make us better people. I found those qualities in Dr. Kim!! <smile> Thank you Sir for all the help you so freely provide so many of us!!

Unfortunately for this Nation, though they arent all gawkers, the majority of our Nation have been conditioned to believe that appearances are more important than substance .Now our prioritities are based on facade . Thus we are a Nation not unlike a Hollywood set and just as morally fragile. Yes, we are a Nation of varying cultures at example are the inferior Facade Culture and the superior Substance Culture. Which promises this country the best chance of survival ?

Dr. Ben, I am so sorry for your horrible experience. You did well to put it out in the open and remind society how hurtful a comment or gesture can be. Hats off to you for your courage.

standing up for what your thoughts and emotions are is exactly what this world needs, and people I respect your right to your beliefs but can we try and keep our beliefs private about a higher power, or not as it were? This letter was about Ben and his experience when out with his family, if we start making it about our beliefs then perhaps we take this over and make it ours?

I enjoyed the wider perspectives you shared with us in your essay, particularly your compassion for those unpracticed in dealing with surprise reactions, yet well-intentioned. Yes, I have no doubt we live in an ocean of powerful connectedness.

Re: Those who would have you write only about your specialty: We need more generalists with wider perspective and humility as in our age, we are suffering from the ravages of specialties and the power they usurp.

Thank you so much for your honesty and exposing your deepest soul
Your outward "differentness" facilitated the healer in you to come to the fore
We are so lucky that technology has allowed us to be the recipient of your deep knowledge
even in south Africa
Thank YOu

That's well written. Thank you for sharing Dr. Kim. Many of us have experienced this ourself or vicariously through a family member that we love. For me, my developmentally challenged sister being called a "retard" and laughed at was so confusing as a kid. I didn't see what "they" saw, because I knew "her." Who wouldn't want to let her play in the neighbourhood games too? I had a lot of anger for a period of time. I'm so grateful to my mother for teaching me - when/how to teach and explain, when to ignore and walk away, but always how to be kind and loving to my sister which was the most important thing. Your sons will never forget that you chose to do things with them when it would be so much easier to just stay home and avoid the hassles of going out into the sunshine. We all belong and it's up to all of us to be kind to each other. Thank you for sharing.

I have been devoted to your column for many years and always enjoy your advice and find it helpful.
the people you are talking about are of small minds and unsure of themselves and twisted in their make-up if they have to go to this extent to make themselves feel important. The patches they have are not visible as they are hidden by a troubled sense of self worth and this is the only way they are able to attract attention to themselves by laughing and making fun of another. I do admire the beauty on the outside of a person but if that person does not possess inside beauty then I am not open for a long lasting friendship. I look for beauty of the soul. When people with this attitude of others look in the mirror, I wish a mirror would reflect their inside worth as well as the outside. This may wake them up as they see the monsters they have created of themselves. I have seen facial burn victims very disfiqured who try to live a normal life who do not hide as they go along in life. An accident to happen may be just lurking around the corner for the people who make fun of others. I do not think they will be able to cope with their disfiqurements. God bless those who understand a note to the gawkers..... Someone else is gawking at you because of your unfeeling attitude.

Dear Dr. Kim,
I was heart broken when I read your article on gawkers. People can be so cruel. Thank you for sharing such a private part of your life with your family readers :) I think you are one of the most beautiful people I have ever encountered. (I can't say met for I have yet to meet you and hopefully soon :) The verse that comes to mind for me is "You are fearfully and wonderfully made..." God made you special, unique, different, just like Jesus stood out in the crowds, you stand out Dr. Kim as a shining example of the love of Christ. Keep blogging, loving, sharing, and not being ashamed of anything for God made a special calling for you and oh how great it is! God bless you Dr. Kim and your wonderful family.

Dr. Ben, I'm soooooooooooo sorry for this unfortunate incident. Oh, that we could all be more conscious of how our actions and words affect others! When I run into unfair situations such as this or like when I'm falsely accused, I make a conscious choice to, as soon as I regain my composure, to pray God's best blessings on the offender. This was very hard to do at first, but I've had a lot of practice over the years I've been doing this, so I find it pretty easy to do at this point. I also pray that God will open their eyes and allow them to see truth. People who behave in such bad ways as this have not yet learned that what goes around comes around. They are to be pitied. And forgiven. And prayed for.

At any rate, I am so sorry for your pain. For what it's worth, I think you're fabulous!! And if I were to see you, it would make absolutely no difference to me whatsoever if your skin had discolorations or, for that matter, what color your skin ... I couldn't think more highly of you even if your skin were blue or purple! You rock, Dr. Kim ... and that's all I have to say about that!

Thank you Sonya! You stated exactly what I was about to write. You are 'spot on'! Dr Ben Kim, I am guessing that the majority of your readers had no idea what you look like physically until today, however, our image of you is much truer to the truth than what you see when you look into the mirror. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!! We tell our family and friends that you are the best doctor we have ever known! We tell them you are a wise man, a man who truly cares about people, a righteous man, a true reflection of Christ. One who brings healing to all who know of him, not unlike Christ Jesus. We tell everyone we know about you, because through you many lives are touched daily. Thank you!! You are truly a very beautiful person! Thank you Ben Kim for boldly being you! God is using you!

Please pray for those sad ignorant individuals, who just don't know how lost and miserable they really are.

God bless you Ben Kim! And thank you Sonya for your post.

Dearest Dr. Kim;

Thank you as always for the precient reality check. As I sit here in a stifling hot office, worried that my 'ugly' arms are uncovered, I am in awe of your ability to be grateful in the face of such ugly behaviour. I am so glad that you refuse to allow such appalling insensitivity to damage your soul. I am also very grateful for the reminder that it's OK, even encouraged, for me to practise my friendly, open-hearted smile to everyone I meet. Namaste.
Light and Love, Jann.

Thank you for your post about the gawkers. I work the front desk at a Catholic hospital and see people in many conditions. Your letter strengthens my resolve to look at everyone in the same caring way, seeing the beautiful child of God in every person.

Thank you for this letter. I had a horrific case of psoriasis when I was 12, from head to toe, literally. I don't know if the nuns at my school cautioned my classmates, but they never made me feel an outcast or 'different'. The only negative comments I ever heard were from adults. I have since outgrown the disease outwardly, but I am forever grateful for the acceptance by my classmates. Thank you.

I think of those kind of people in a mocking way back at them as the Normals. I have cervical dystonia and have experienced these things frequently because of pain and disfigurement. Oh how great it would be to be a compassionless, egocentric, abusive Normal apparently going about life without a care in the world, never suffering, never being discriminated against and never feeling frustrated by having to work harder and endure more to end up with less. Good luck to all the Normals when their day comes to suffer as all beings do eventually.

I've come to discover the insensibility, rudeness, and lack of class comes back to haunt them sometime in their future. Karma has a sting like no other. I am so sorry for the pain you sometime face but know that we all love you for who you are. The thing is beauty always fads, always that is is if You live long enough. To have beauty within is a wonderful thing that will last for a life time. We all have baggage in this world I'm just glad mine isn't being shallow.

Dr Kim

With a mind and heart like yours, and the ability to pass so much wisdom on to thousands like myself, you are many times richer than those beautiful people who are the poorer for never having had the opportunity to gain the insights that those who are 'disadvantaged' take for granted.

Many thanks for this latest posting.

Dear Dr. Kim;

I enjoyed your article, and the patient attitude you have towards the less than kind people we all run across in our daily lives. I enjoy the patient and kind attitude you have, as a healthcare provider, towards the health giving way you live and encourage us all to live through your mailings and website.

It seems as we have gotten to be a less God-fearing people, here in North America (Canada, US, and Mexico), we have gotten bolder in openly sinning in our own lives and ruder to each other. Too few remember the Golden Rule from the Bible New Testament book of St. Matthew, chapter 7: "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you."

So few people seem to remember to: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is engaged in a hard battle." I have seen this quote attributed to many ancient philosophers; Plato, Aristotle, Philo. It does not matter who said it, because it is true, whomever said it. We all have burdens, pains, and sorrows that others cannot see. If we remember that, in our interactions with each other, every day, oh, what a difference it makes in how we treat others!

Imagine if those gawkers came to you as patients, with whatever health burdens, pains or struggles they might be having, how different their attitude towards you would be.

I suffer from a pigmentation issue myself, and have to be careful in sunshine, as well. I have gotten my fair share of comments and looks, cus of how pale I am, even in the midst of everyone else and their summer tans. It was harder to hear and see commenters and gawkers when I was a kid. Now, as an adult and parent, I do as you do, and try not to let it bother me, and show compassion to others. It can be tough to be compassionate all the time, but it is so worth it when we do.

Thank you, again, for all the heath information you share!

It is best you get your hurt & outrage out of your system, but I wonder if the people who need to read your message are going to come here to your site. Best maybe to try and get your essay published in a mainstream venue of some sort? Does it hurt to try? Go for the Globe & Mail! MacLeans magazine. Keep at it.

However. I wonder if there aren't some irregularities in physical appearance that are so extreme (yours certainly is pretty mainstream) that even you would have the knee jerk reaction to try to get your companion(s) to have a look-see.

There was a woman on the bus, years ago, I saw her more than once, she always sat on the wide seat behind the bus driver. Her face was covered - I do mean totally covered - with growths that were strangely beautiful in that they were almost perfectly spherical, and of every size from large pimple to large as a golf ball. Dozens of these things. Her eyes were bulgy and she had that wild look. She was neat & clean. Everybody who got on the bus could obviously see her and I never observed any sniggering or staring.

If I had been at an amusement park or some other place with a large number of persons, exactly your situation, waiting for a merry-go-round, and I saw that woman with the growths, on first blush, I think I would have nudged my companion. Now, having read your commentary, I wonder if that would have been wrong of me. So what if the person I was with didn't get to view this pathology. What - are we medical or sociology students on an assignment to see how many odd-looking humans can we spot? Is this a contest? Older, now, and having read your essay, I would not say a word to my companion(s). If it is God's will that they view somebody with a non-mainstream appearance, then He will turn their necks in that direction. No help from me is required.

My sister and I experienced that very often. She had Down Syndrome. Although she was quite verbal and loved to talk, often people would speak about her as if she weren't there! We have lived in several states in the US and lived in Barrie, Ontario from 1994-1996. We found Canadians to be much more inclusive and appreciated that very much. A wonderful country, indeed.

Dear Dr. Kim, all I can say is their ignorant behavior says everything about them and nothing about you. I usually never comment , but felt I could just not let this go. I love your mmessages and am thankful for all you do.

Dear Dr. Kim,

I am so sorry to hear of this incident. I am sure it caused you much pain. I can relate on a personal level, as for some reason, when I was a child, I was always teased and called ugly by my classmates. It took me many years to overcome feeling that way, but one day I just realized it wasn't true and that I was as beautiful as anyone else. My husband, also, has suffered from gawkers, as you have. There is really no reason for it, as his physical appearance is totally normal. But there are many occasions when he would come home and relate that people were staring at him. Who knows what is going on in people's minds sometimes. I know that because of what I, myself, suffered, I am very sensitive to never hurting anyone because of how they look. And, anyway, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.

Well done, Dr. Kim! I have always admired your wisdom and the generosity with which you have shared what you know in order to help all of us improve the quality of our lives FOR FREE for all these years!

Let me apologize for all who are "earth bound souls" and who have no self control and allow themselves behavior which causes insult and embarrassment to those who are different on the outside. Their appearance may blend in as familiar and normal, but their hearts and souls lack the compassion and empathy we need to be fully connected and loving members of the human race. You bring healing and caring to the rest of us. These people are the dissonant and heartless elements in our society that cannot feel for others who may be different for any number of reasons that separate people. It is their loss.

Dr. Kim I wish I had the power to protect you and your family from this ugliness. I believe you have been given a Divine assignment to be our teacher and healer. Is it possible that through your unique experience, you offer us a perspective and a platform to be used to enlighten us. Your blog comments were priceless - beautifully expressed and heart wrenching. Someone will hear you and learn to be more humane and compassionate.

Thank you for many many years of guidance and loving support. I have been blessed by you.

Michele Maddox

A beautiful letter from a beautiful person. People who really know us no longer see our physical flaws, it's our personality and heart that will always shine through.

You are one of the most beautiful people on this earth. People who make fun of other people are unhappy in their own lives and as the saying goes, "Misery loves company." The world is a much more beautiful place because you are part of it. Thank you for all you do.

Dr. Kim, Bless you for your patience and restraint in the presence of your family and the public. You stated your stance eloquently, and with restraint. I question whether I would have been so kind if it had been me. People are so thoughtless and cruel.

This letter has brought tears, having touched my heart at the deepest level.... I can only say that I bless whatever it is in this vast universe that has made you who and what you are.... a beautiful, loving, compassionate, kind, caring and vulnerable soul on this planet earth. Thank you for having the courage to expose your 'naked heart' for all the world to see/feel, which raises, by several notches, the voice of compassion residing in the soul of humanity... You are a blessing and a hero in our eyes and hearts.... Thank you! Thank you!

Hank you Dr. Kim for your comments on so many subjects. You are great!
Gawking I think is a past time all over the world. We have travelled in almost 7o countries and because we are Canadian and tall and not skinny, we have been the object of gawking...some put down and some amusing. In several areas of China we were pointed at and laughed Chedgu in Korea my husband was asked to pose with brides and bridal couples because he was taller than them but not unusual here. Then we were on a plane to Beijing and a group of Dutch travellers boarded and I hate to say they left US gawking at their heights! has the freedom to look but it is such bad bad manners to laugh, point or make faces when we see someone not quite like we think they should look like.
We should always put ourselves in the other's shoes and think before we react.

I used to be morbidly obese. I know all about gawkers. I thoroughly understand. I befriend the big people and go out of my way to say a kind hello and give a genuine smile. And I look beyond the outside to find that lonely, hurting soul. Love you Dr. just the way you are. God bless. Nancy.

Dr. Kim, I truly sympathize weith your story. I am white 62 year old chubby blond with hair to my waist. I have faced so much jealousy and been stood up so many times by female acquaintances too numerous to count. I am a nice, pleasant and interesting person and a doormat. I like myself and my appearance and I don't want to change to accomodate others.
I have been in my new home in a very small town in the middle of Texas for over eight years and I still have no friends. It is like Stepford Wives here, everyone a cookie cutter image of the next.
It seems anyone with features out of the ordinary is an object of ridicule and shunning. I came here expecting Christian Love and found wolves in sheep's clothing.
We cannot change others but we can change ourselves and stand up with dignity and not allow ourselves to be trampled by others' opinions of us.
I have seen your picture Dr. Kim and you are a very nice looking man. Many celebrities have had physical features they wanted to hide. I think everyone does to some extent.
Bullying is rampant online and it does carry over into real life. Sad, but a reality.
Stand proud and try to ignore those who don't know what a great guy you are. It is their loss.

Please don't lose heart, there are many sincere people who accept others and don't try and drag them down.
A wise freind said she thinks people are afraid of some one who is different, either in appearance or personality, and that leads to mean-ness and exclusion.
(I am an introvert in an extrovert culture, my whole life I have felt that others are trying to re-make me in their image)

Dear Dr. Kim
I am commenting on your open letter regarding your experience with someone noticing your vitilligo. I am a woman who is 69 years' old and have vitilligo on a good portion of my body. I receive your emails all of the time and find them informative. Please do not take this incident to heart. I know that this skin condition causes psychological insecurities. Does it matter? You are a person, as am I. Both of my daughters have CAH. When the first was born they said that they didn't know if she was a boy or girl. That was 42 years ago. In this age, I guess that is not a big thing, but it was then. Ten years later, when I was 38 yrs' old I had breast cancer and a mastectomy, and my husband left me the year following.
I have read your troubles with your parents regarding home schooling and understand your feelings....and I understand theirs. My daughters could not have children....therefore, I have my own heartbreaks.
Take care, Bev.

Truly appreciated your open letter to gawkers and love your advice of a warm glance. I have a 10 yr old grandson, who is only 42 inches tall and although he's not a midget, very agile, smart and likeable, he is going thru some tough times with not only bullying but adults being so unkind with labels that he can hear. My heart cries every time it happens and have yet to lash out at anyone so insensitive. He's getting to the age where he's constantly angry, and all we can give him is positive outlook and experiences. His hypothalamus and pituitary gland aren't talking to each other so growth is a problem, that's how we explain things to him. Fortunately, there are people who understand and help him out at school. To top it off, he is part Chinese,Hawaiian,Samoan,German,andFrench making him look himself. How refreshing to feel your understanding of our situation with your letter. Continue to do what you know best, help people. always myself, Trudie

Thank you so much for being so open and sharing this letter. I have endeavored to always teach my children and now grandchildren that how a person looks means nothing as to who that person is.

I am sorry that you have ever been made to feel lesser because of how you look. Our physical appearance is a very small part of a package that will change with age, no matter what. Our society today puts way too much importance on how a person looks and not nearly enough on who a person is.

Your newsletters give us practical advice, yes, but I am most impressed with how you add lessons of value in with it. Lessons that bring back that quality of person so lacking today.

My heartfelt apologies for the people who are so shallow. But my heartfelt gratitude for your topics that are so useful to me and my family.


Robin Sitler Byrnes

"Our physical appearance is a very small part of a package that will change with age, no matter what."

No truer words were ever spoken. Everyone who draws breath needs to read this statement. Especially the very good looking conceited folk. (Not saying all beautiful persons are egotistical, of course.) Have a look at the gossip magazines at the checkout at the supermarket! Great photos of aging "stars" with no makeup and in their little swim suits. Ha ha ha. Tks, Robin.

Thankyou! For reminding me that no matter our appearance, we are all human and worthy of respect xx

I am sorry for your pain and for the boorishness of some people. I grew up in a very judgmental family, so it is taking me a lifetime of being conscious of this attitude and consciously reforming it.
Even with a disability myself, I find myself looking twice at unusual people (or animals). It's not gawking with disgust or judgment but just taking in what is different and expanding my concept of what is, much like children do. I find myself wondering what their lives are like, or how they became that way. Sometimes it is with admiration either for the people themselves and for the people they are with, that they deal admirably with their challenges. And sometimes, to be truthful, it is with gratitude that I am not yet challenged in such a way, for I recognize some of their difficulties.
So, not everyone that "gawks" at you is judging your appearance negatively.

Kudos again to you, Dr. Kim, for another unifying reminder for us all to stay consistently connected to the love and compassion of Source and soul divinity despite our countless human experiences of earthly harshness, ignorance and pain. My heart goes out to you and everyone for all suffering ever experienced.

And kudos also for simply taking good care of yourself, for the sake of your family as well as yourself. If people are going to trip over appearance then it's more of a reflection of themselves. Hopefully, one day they will grow beyond their own 3-D ignorance and superficiality. In any case, we must all do whatever is necessary to care for ourselves as well as others.

You are a magnificent soul,exceedingly wise, kind and generous. And you are beautiful, body, mind and spirit. You continue to help many in many ways. We are infinitely grateful to you for all of your selfless service and all you do to unify and empower us, and make us feel more comfortable on life's frequently bumpy roads. And for assisting us in remembering who we truly are and our higher purpose. So keep loving and ranting, and being wonderful, much-appreciated you.

Peace and love to you, your lovely family, and everyone!

I and 33,987 others like (love) Dr. Ben Kim, and thank him for his kindness in sharing his time to help us all heal in the individual ways we need too. I am sorry for the gawker. This person may never experience what you've shared and taught, your gift to all of us, nor may he experience any one else's gifts for that matter. God Bless.

I read this the day after I was at a campground and gawked at someone. I was in the bathroom and someone knocked on the door. I opened the door to say I'd be just a moment more (it was a toilet, shower, sink combo) and there, waiting so patiently, was a woman and her little kid. I did a second take at the sight of the kid- not just because he (or she?) was so different from most little kids but because of the kid's beauty and the unspeakable sadness in her (his?) eyes. There was an aura of exhaustion around both of them.

I felt so horrible. I mean, I smiled at them, I was friendly, it wasn't like I gawked and went, "Ooh, ICK" but... I gawked. And I'm so sorry.

Thank you for writing this. I hope so, so much that I'll be able to restrain my gawker self next time.

Hi Dr Kim, thank you very much for sharing.

I absolutely love reading your work, you are a very talented, well-meaning person and I feel very privileged that you have chosen to share your experiences with those who want to listen.

Currently going through some digestive issues at the moment (resulting in lots of wind), I am thankful for the decency my colleagues at work show in ignoring the problem. They can otherwise be quite difficult to work with, so I appreciate their decency in this matter.

I have learnt a huge amount from your articles and you have been a huge influence in my life. Thank you once again!

Hi, your letter prompted my first comments online.

Thank you for your very insightful and heartfelt letter. It is disappointing yet not surprising that there are people who are so clueless as to how hurtful their actions can be. The focus of their thinking is narrow and exposure to life experiences is so limited.

Gawking really shows ignorance. Kindness is learned from parents and others. Kids basically do what you do. I live in a state that welcomes diversity, which to me includes those who appear "different."
That means not typically laughing or gawking at people who are covered up in the sun, etc. Really, if I saw someone do that here, I would directly say something about manners.

What goes around comes around. The universe is always watching. And the Golden Rule is so basic. What are these ignorant people teaching their kids? Maybe those two have no kids. Well good.

Thank you for your honesty and compassion. Your advice and writings are very admirable, thoughtful, consistent, and helpful.

I especially like the step-by-step pictures for your recipes!

Dear Dr Kim,

We have a sign outside our Church at the moment in Botany, Auckland, New Zealand that says:
Life is like a game of tennis, he who serves best rarely loses.
Folk with egos sadly only serve themselves and don't think of others and they lose out in the end as they don't receive the natural blessings that come from sincerely serving others.
I have been blessed by your wonderful emails and look forward to them. I think of you every time I make your pea and chickpea soup which is so nourishing!

Thank you for sharing your experience, Dr. Kim. Like a lot of others here, I know how you feel. I have dwarfism, but a rare kind that only makes my limbs short-statured. Most people can't tell I have dwarfism right away. I'm 4'4" and look like a kid from a distance. I think this causes people to gawk at me when they see me up close because they can't quite figure out what's "wrong" with me (short, fat fingers are the biggest give-away, as are my feet if I'm in flip-flops). I've gotten lots of "Are you a midget?" questions, some people think I'm a teenager (even though I'm 29), and some little kids have asked me if I'm a kid, too. I even had an anesthesiologist flat out ask me what was wrong with my hands as I was getting prepped for surgery. At first I thought "there's nothing wrong with them," but then I had to stoop to his level of ignorance to tell him it's dwarfism. He still looked clueless. But I recently heard the best comment about me from a toddler to her mother in the grocery store. Without pointing, she sort of loudly whispered "That's a tiny lady!" I could've frowned and been a grump about it (like usual), but for some reason I almost laughed out loud. Her mother ignored her but I gave them both a smile. I think she was the first to ever call me a lady and it totally made my day, especially coming from someone so young. She behaved better than most adults. Anyway, thanks again for sharing your letter. It's always great to turn something negative into something positive. My encounter with the toddler turned out to be a positive one that I'll never forget.

if we were never exposed to all the 'information?' from commercials, beauty'?' magazines, pushy sales people (so called beauty representatives) etc - anything that stands to benefit from alienating people from 'real' reality, would we even have so much cause to nitpick at our differences? unfortunately we are products of a commercial society... we don't choose for ourselves - most of us don't even realizie this.
the further we fall from the commercial mold, the more commerce profit - not people.

your reaction to your "gawkers" is admirable but pleeese recognise that you are as normal as anyone of the human race and regardless of the degree, we are all different, so i guess you can say that you are - if we all were blind the hullabaloo would not even exist.

Dr. Kim...I hope this will reach you, as I'm sort of new at this. But I want to thank you so much for explaining to those gawkers, who you really are. I have been getting your newsletters for some time now, and oh the good help you give, is better than most doctors..The way you explain things, as it should be, makes a big difference. I hope all is well with you & your family, and the hell with the gawkers. I had a cheropractor once who might have been burnt on his was pretty bad, and to gawkers , maybe a little grotesque...but I liked him no matter what he looked like..he had had a terrible accident at one time, and his disfigurment didn't change who he was.
Thanks for all your letters...Lorrie