Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?

Our society places great value on skin color. Nations have fought wars and people have initiated social movements because of conflicts over skin color. Those with dark skin sometimes try desperately to bleach themselves with various creams, while those who are pale often soak in tanning lotion to attain a darker hue. I only wish my problems had a similarly clear-cut solution. Unfortunately, I was born with purple skin.

I never noticed anything different about myself until my freshman year of high school, when a classmate commented that I had purple skin. My skin is so thin that in the cold, you can see my veins, giving off a reddish purple color. I didn’t think that was a big deal until more people started staring at me and treating me like I had a contagious disease. Although they were probably only jokingly doing so, the other students started calling me Barney because of my skin color. Not that there’s anything wrong with Barney, but it is not exactly flattering when a high school student is compared with the purple dinosaur.

When my mom questioned me about my unusual decision to don gloves in the sunny California wintertime, I told her the truth: I didn’t want my classmates to notice my skin. In response, she sat me down and...

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