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Maya Talwar-Hebert

Beautifully different

Maya is different and she’s proud of it! Her positive outlook on life, love of writing, and adventurous spirit led her to be featured in New Moon magazine’s “25 Beautiful Girls” issue. One of the things that makes her different is that she lives in two different houses, to allow time with two moms and a stepmom. She also donated her hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths — a campaign to donate hair to create wigs for women with cancer. Read about Maya to learn about the beauty in being different.

What grade are you in?

I am in sixth grade.

How did you get a spot in New Moon magazine’s “25 Beautiful Girls” issue?

New Moon had a contest where you could write an essay all about why you think you’re beautiful. I wrote about why I’m different and they chose me. I was in the May/June 2008 issue. They printed my essay along with my picture! It’s the first time anything like this has ever happened to me.

In your essay for New Moon, you mentioned you donated your hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Why did you decide to do that?

I was going to cut my hair and then I found out that you could donate it to people with cancer who have lost their hair from treatments. I decided since I was cutting it anyway, that I would donate it. Also, I know how devastating cancer is and I wanted to help — even if it was in a small way. I have known a few people who have had cancer; my step-mother’s mother died from breast and colon cancer. There was a young girl in kindergarten at my school who had leukemia. Also, one of my mother's friends who has two girls my age has breast cancer.

What makes you different?

You could name hundreds of things that make me different, but I think that one of the most important things is that I know that, “I am me,” and no one can change that. If I am ever unhappy with my differences, I just have to remember that I’m special just the way I am.

I also think I’m unusual because I’m proud to be different. If people tease me about my family of two moms and a step mom, I just shake it off because I know that having a different family makes me stronger in some ways. I hope that this makes me more sensitive and aware of all living things that go through challenges because of their uniqueness.

The last thing that I think makes me especially different from most of the people that I know is that I live in two houses. This has its advantages and its disadvantages. For one thing, I get twice the clothes and twice the stuff. Plus I also get to go on twice the vacations. However, most people don’t realize how difficult it is to split the time I spend with each of my moms in half.

So you see, I am different in so many ways — but these differences make me who I am today. They help shape who I will be in the future.

What do you think about gossiping? Is it a problem at your school?

Oh yes, gossiping is a huge problem at my school, but telling secrets is an even bigger problem. I believe that almost every girl (and some boys) in my class has been left out at least once. Most of them, including me, want to stop gossiping. What we need to do is to band together and say, “No more gossiping!” I think that we can do this by:

  • Not passing on any gossip that we hear
  • Telling others not to gossip
  • Simply not starting rumors ourselves

I also think that some girls get pressured into gossiping for popularity reasons, which is also very wrong. So to sum it all up, gossiping is very rude, obnoxious, mean, and hurtful. Together we can stop gossiping once and for all.

Tell us about a current or a former teacher that taught you something important. Why was this important to you?

The teacher that I learned the most from was my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Ingram. One of the things that she taught me was to stand up for myself and others. If kids were picking on someone for being clumsy, Ms. Ingram would tell me to go stand up to those kids. Standing up for myself also meant being brave — like asking someone to work with me instead of waiting for someone to ask me. Ms. Ingram didn’t only teach me math and science that year, she taught me how to be a better friend.

You have a few things you like to do outside of school. How did you get interested in your current hobbies?

Right now I take violin and dance. I thought it would be interesting to play an instrument and violin is taught at my school. Dance is just so much fun and it gets my energy out. Plus you get to interact with other people in different ways than you would by just talking to them.

What do you want to do when you are older?

I either want to be an interior designer or dance choreographer.

When you get older, how do you think you’ll be able to tell you are successful?

Success is defined by many things. Success can mean having friends or having a job. Some people might define success by how much money they have or if they wear designer clothing. But for me it means being surrounded by people who love me and want the best for me. It’s easy to tell when people love you. They might comfort you in the night, or care for you when you’re sick. They might hug you and thank you, or simply tell you that they love you. If someone shows me that they love me, then I will most definitely know that I am successful!

What advice do you have for other girls?

I would advise girls to never be afraid to try something new, whether it's involving your friends or your basketball team.

Content last reviewed December 01, 2009
Page last updated December 01, 2009

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.