Shekira Farrell has proven that a picture really is worth a thousand words — especially when it comes to raising awareness.
Shekira’s son Jaiden was diagnosed with autism when he was a little over 2 years old. Recently, her son made an impression on the internet after he and a beauty supply store employee put on a sunglasses fashion show in one of the store aisles — a tender moment captured by Shekira and shared on Instagram.
And now, Shekira is speaking out again on behalf of her son and other children with autism. Her Instagram account is flooded with pictures of her face, elaborately painted. Many of her creations are deeply significant.
Shekira shares with Babble:
“I started face painting in August 2016. It hasn’t even been a full year yet. I just looked in the mirror one day, grabbed some paints, put on some music, and went to work. The first one was a Wizard of Oz look I came up with. I get so many ideas and instead of putting them on paper this time, I used my face as a canvas.”
Raising a child with special needs can be an isolating, worrisome, stressful, and lonely journey. Shekira says that as she began learning more about autism, she also learned more about herself, about her strength, power, and ability to help others on the same path. And that’s when she picked up a paintbrush and became an activist in a unique and astounding way.
So, how is she handling her Internet fame?
“I didn’t do it for ‘likes,’ Shekira shared. “I did it because it made me feel good.” She adds, “And although the paintings are on my face, it’s not about me. I wanted people to look deeper, take a closer look at details, at the meaning behind the looks. See the uniqueness. Just like with autism.”
Jaiden is now six years old. According to his mom, he is receiving speech and occupational therapy and starts first grade in September. Jaiden made the honor roll this past school year and is continuously making progress and improvements. He enjoys math and science, he’s learning to read, and he’s artistic, like Shekira.
Shekira shared with Babble that she’s honored to be Jaiden’s mom, concluding:
“My son is not just ‘autism.’ But a lot of times, once people hear it … they have these ignorant images and ideas about who he should be, because of a word. I want to help shed a different light, that brings about a strength, beauty, uniqueness, [and] individuality to it. And the fact that I … can help so many other people just by trying to be the best mother I can be, is a blessing.”