‘Beauty is all about how you see yourself’

Fairfield woman shares her own tale of appearance, intolerance




Fairfield author Nancy Fabian addresses the traditional concept of beauty in her children’s book Nira’s Heart. The heroine, a princess, is kind and loving, but she is not especially attractive, said Fabian.

In her first children’s book, The Red Cat, published in 2009, Fabian introduces her readers to a main character who is different. Rather than being brown, white, black or even gray, Fabian’s cat is red.

Fabian understands her characters’ struggles on a personal level. At birth, Fabian was diagnosed with bilateral facial paralysis resulting from Moebius syndrome. Although her early school years were difficult, Fabian said she had several close friends “to hang out with.” Unfortunately, she was forced to leave them behind when her family moved to Puerto Rico.

Beginning high school in a new country, where she didn’t speak the language, was challenging, Fabian said. Every day she endured vicious verbal assaults from school bullies because of her appearance. Fabian said Puerto Rican teens weren’t used to seeing someone with her physical condition.

“I felt like I just had to survive,” Fabian said. “When I walked down the halls at school, the kids made fun of me. They would write things about me on the blackboard. This was an ongoing thing every day.”

Despite her struggles, Fabian felt proud to attend her high school graduation.

“I held my head high,” she said.

She then returned to the United States to attend Hunter College. Fabian also studied at Fordham University.

After studying science in college, Fabian worked for more than 10 years as a histotechnologist, which is a technician who works with pathologists. She left her job as a supervisor at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York to raise her daughter, Christa.

During this time Fabian decided to write a book that emphasized the need for acceptance of others, no matter what they look like.

“Beauty is all about how you see yourself,” Fabian said. “It’s not about what you see in the reflection. There are a lot of times the reflection might be beautiful but there’s nothing behind it.”

In Nira’s Heart, for example, the princess longs to be beautiful. But she finds there are more important things than outside appearances.

“She realizes that it’s not being beautiful that makes you attractive but rather what you have inside of you,” Fabian said.

In The Red Cat, Fabian attempted to show children at an age-appropriate level what it feels like to have disabilities.

“Sometimes children don’t understand the situation and they don’t know how to handle it,” she said.

Both books were co-published with Neal Wooten of Mirror Publishing. Although the company assisted with the books’ editing, Fabian’s been responsible for marketing.

She is working on a third children’s book about bullying, which she experienced first-hand. and hopes to find a literary agent to assist with its launch.

However, she is more interested in delivering her message by getting the books into children’s hands than tallying sales.

“Basically I give out my books to anyone who will read them,” Fabian said.

Stephanie Hayes, a teacher at McKinley School, said students responded positively when 10-year-old Christa read Nira’s Heart to her class.

“The students were engaged and intrigued as the story of Princess Nira unfolded,” Hayes said. “Afterward in a class discussion, the students commented on how they could relate the theme of focusing on inner beauty in themselves and others to their everyday life. It was evident to me through the students’ comments that they had truly reflected on Princess Nira’s journey and the true meaning of the book.”

Fabian hopes to continue to convey to young people that they have much to offer.

“They all have the potential to be whatever they want to be because of the talents and gifts that are within them,” Fabian said.

Both books have been read by children all over the United States. Fabian said she has received numerous letters from children and their parents about how The Red Cat and Nira’s Heart made a difference in their lives.

Information about The Red Cat and Nira’s Heart is available at nancyfabianbooks.com or by sending an email to [email protected]

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