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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Millersville chapter.

I was supposed to write an article for Halloween theme week, but I was much more interested in writing about advocacy. Advocacy for myself, for other women, for men, for anyone who has dealt with any major personal or medical issues and sometimes advocacy or things that need to be advocated for can be scary, so I guess it ties together after all. This is my advocacy article, this is part of my story, these are my 3 ribbons.

My Purple Ribbon:

This month (October) is Domestic Violence Awareness month, specifically Thursday October 21st is known as “Purple Thursday”.

Many of my friends reached out to me on this day and I felt conflicted. I was happy that people were kind enough to offer words of sympathy and acknowledge that I came out the other side of something bad. I was in an abusive relationship when I was 16 and even after I was out of it haunted me – it still does. I was conflicted because sometimes I think I don’t deserve to be recognized on “Purple Thursday” because other women have suffered so much more than me. Other women are in abusive relationships for years and I got out within 3 ½ months. But this is the cycle I hope I will eventually fall out of, and the society will break – women trying to put values on problems. Domestic violence is a huge concern in this country and many other countries. Domestic violence doesn’t affect only women, but a large portion is sadly made up of female victims.

My purple ribbon gives me the strength to known when something is dangerous, toxic, or otherwise. This is probably the reason I didn’t date anyone after him until I got to college. I wasn’t putting myself in this situation ever again. My purple ribbon is not something I look at or think of as sad, fragile, broken, or any of those adjectives I always see related to this topic.

My purple ribbon says “I got out and I am never going back – I survived, I am strong, I am worth something more”

If you or someone you know is experiencing any type of domestic violence this website has information, hotlines, and help: https://www.dhs.pa.gov/Services/Assistance/Pages/Domestic-Violence.aspx

My Grey Ribbon:

March 1st-7th is Facial Palsy Awareness week, more specifically for me, Bell’s Palsy Awareness month. Many of the people who know me have no idea about this but it’s advocacy week, so we are letting it all out!! My close friends and family know that on June 17th, 2021, I called an ambulance because I woke up with the right side of my face drooping and “frozen”. I thought I was having a stroke. Thankfully, after a brain scan to tell me there was no internal bleeding & an MRI to tell me I wasn’t actively having a stroke, only one option remained – Bell’s Palsy. Bell’s Palsy is a facial palsy that occurs randomly, the nerves in the face kind of spaz out and in my case, “freeze” your face. The entire right side of my face was “frozen” in this way for over a month. I had to drink with a straw, I couldn’t eat a sandwich properly (fork & knife only), my right eye would open by itself, so I had to wear and eye patch to bed to fall asleep. I couldn’t smile right, I couldn’t blink right, and the nerves in my right ear were also not working – therefore, everything was inhumanely loud. So loud that if my mom was making dinner and set the pan on the countertop, the clanging sound made me cry. It was honestly one of the worst months of my life.

I had never been to any emergency room let alone in an ambulance, I was alone for the first hour and a half of it which made my anxiety worse, and I didn’t know if I was actively having a stroke until 4 hours alter when I could get the MRI. I am grateful every day I wasn’t having a stroke, especially at only 20 years old that is beyond rare. However, the Bell’s Palsy was scary and lasted much longer than I thought it would. It affected my every day for what felt like forever. Bell’s Palsy is more common than most people think, 40,000 cases a year. The tricky thing about it is there is no way to know why it happened and there is no exact timeline for when it would go away, for me I was lucky, it lasted only a month. For some, it takes months, years, and can be permanent (this is mostly in elderly).

My grey ribbon is a sign that I can get through really scary, tough, vulnerable situation. I had someone say, “Oh you had Bell’s Palsy, that’s like a broken face, right?” My grey ribbon answers that question with “My face is not broken, I am not broken, no one with this is broken, it is something that happened and that we dealt with – that’s it.”

My grey ribbon is the newest I have acquired but it is the one that I have fully overcome and want to spread awareness for without negative feelings.

For more information of Bell’s Palsy: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bells-palsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20370028

Kellyn Simpkin-Strong Girl Back One Arm
Kellyn Simpkin / Her Campus

My Teal Ribbon:

September is PCOS awareness month, this is my oldest ribbon and the one that affects my life every day; I am a part of the #Cycsterhood. PCOS – poly cystic ovarian system, is a condition I was diagnosed with when I was 16 years old. This started when I didn’t have my period for a whole 7 months which is extremely odd. I got some blood work done and it turned out I have very high levels of testosterone which is a key sign. PCOS is accompanied by high testosterone, irregular periods, intense cramps most of every month, easily gaining weight and not being able to lose it – my body processes most everything as sugar. PCOS also puts me at higher risk for thyroid cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and ovarian cancer. The attribute of PCOS I worry about the most is something I haven’t encountered yet, the looming possibility of infertility or fertility problems. All the other things I have encountered, dealt with, and have been managing this whole time. Although managing it has gotten easier for me it is still something that scares me every day.

PCOS is common in women, but it is rare to be diagnosed as a teenager which makes me focused on keeping track of it. PCOS and I no longer have a hatful relationship of resentment, but it is hard sometimes. Pain from cramps can sometimes cause me to not be able to walk. Or gaining weight and not losing it no matter what diets I do or exercises I do is frustrating. PCOS has a lot of moving parts within my life, and I feel for women who are part of this community along with me. My teal ribbon is definitely the one out of the three that plays the biggest role in my life, a very present day-to-day role. I don’t hear nearly enough about it for as common as it is.

For more information on PCOS: https://www.pcosaa.org/

Health Vagina Sex Periods Std Feminism
Molly Longest / Her Campus

These are my 3 ribbons.

Purple, Grey, and Teal

All are equally important pieces of my life and my identity; they make up my experiences and struggles. They are not my own property though; they belong to every person belonging to any of these communities.

Purple, Grey, and Teal

These are my 3 ribbons.

These are 3 different things that contribute to who I am and who many individuals are, they all deserve to be advocated for and heard. I hope the things I’ve shared can resonate, relate, or speak to someone

What are your ribbons? What makes up you? What can you advocate for?

Until next time,


Maddie Rose

Maddie Engleman

Millersville '24

Hello! I'm Maddie Engleman; A bit about me: I am a super senior at Millersville University this year, graduating spring '24. This fall is my 7th semester writing for HC which is so cool! I am an Early Childhood Education major and am minoring in General English. I absolutely love kids, writing, reading, cooking/baking, and crafting with my Cricut. I also enjoy spending time around animals! I love being a part of such an empowering platform and get to write pieces that impact people anywhere. HCXO ~ Maddie "Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic." - Albus Dumbledore (J.K. Rowling)