2018 Miss Springfield Outstanding Teen
When most girls are excited about new fashion trends and shopping in the junior section for clothes, there are a group of girls that struggle with body image and confidence due to Scoliosis. Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine. It can affect people of any age, from babies to adults, but most often starts in children aged 10 to 15. For Shae Smith, it was at the age of 11 when she received her Idiopathic Scoliosis diagnosis and her self-confidence took a big hit. Braced in a hard body shell for 23 hours per day, she had to learn to dress in a way that made her unique and attracted attention. She was always trying to hide the brace, but learned quickly that she had to make the best of it.
As Miss Springfield’s Outstanding Teen 2018, Shae’s platform is one of passion as she is advocating for early stage detection, intervention and awareness of Scoliosis. Creating a website and media movement #catchingthecurve, she hopes to educate parents and teachers on the ways to detect early warning signs. She has also lobbied to MO government officials to mandate school screenings across the state and filed Senate Resolution No. 51 declaring September 1st Scoliosis Awareness Day in MO.
Not only does she want to educate, she also wants to show other girls that life does not have to stop with Scoliosis. She says, “Scoliosis makes its mark on us and we use it to make a difference.” Shae is encouraging young girls like herself to take pride in their body whether wearing a brace, carrying a scar, or living with a rib deformity. She is a competitive dancer, model and pageant title holder who is always asked about her deformity and knows the struggle with clothing fitting improperly, pulling to one side, or having a crooked zipper.
Fashion designers and clothing experts are also starting to identify the need for girls with Scoliosis and helping with styling tips. Stores like Dillard’s are sponsoring fashion shows. On March 10, 2018, Dillard’s at the Battlefield Mall in Springfield, MO, teamed up with Shae and hosted her fashion show in honor of these brave young girls. The fashion show, “Confidently Curvy,” featured girls across the state of MO and Arkansas, along with a guest speaker. Dr. Clayton Stitzel, one of the foremost experts on Scoliosis-based treatments and advocate for early intervention, traveled from PA to offer advice, share stories and discuss new non-invasive Scoliosis treatments
“Fashion is what we make of it and it starts with a movement where Scoliosis warriors stand together to educate others on catching the curve, and supporting each other through self confidence in our own skin and living out our dreams,” says Shae.
Her goal is to encourage others to join her and team up with a national organization to continue to bring the much needed awareness to this condition.
All photos were taken by Marshall Meadows
Read more patient stories like this from around the world.