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S. Fla. Woman Shares Story Of ‘Staring,’ Breaking Stereotypes

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(Source: Shelly Baer)

(Source: Shelly Baer)

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MIAMI (CBS4) – You’ve heard the saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and one South Florida woman is redefining what beauty is.

Shelly Baer said she’s used to people staring at her. According to CBS4 Anchor Shannon Hori, she finally decided to let them “really” look.

“I just thought why not, let them stare at a beautiful photograph,” said Baer.

She came up with the idea for a photography exhibit called “Raw Beauty,” featuring women with disabilities.

“I really wanted to shock and break up stereotypes and myths,” Baer told Hori. “It was a scary, exhilarating, life altering experience.”

Baer was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis when she was three-years old.

“It wasn’t fun for a little kid.  No one explained what was happening to my body and I was scared and confused,” Baer said.

She’s had 20 surgeries in her lifetime.

“Arthritis affects cartilage in the joints,” she said. “It’s a degenerative disease.  It looks like it’s painful.  It’s painful, but I’m on medication.”

Baer works at the mailman center for child development, getting around the sprawling Jackson Hospital campus on a scooter.

Recently, she decided to stand in the spotlight, on stage, in front of 500 people at the TED Conference in Miami.

“Stare at my hands, my short arms and the way I move,” she declared.

“What makes you have so much courage?” asked Hori.

“I think it’s a process and it evolved and I kept saying yes,” Baer said.

Baer also credited her parents and her fiance` Robert.  He too was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes.

She said she hopes when people stare at her now, they look at her from a place of beauty.

“I want to go on more stages and am prepared to do that,” said Baer.

Click Here for more information about Shelly Baer.

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