Ugly Ducklings Inc’s fundraiser begins!

official fundraiser ugly ducklings inc

Here’s the LINK to donate, and participate for a chance to win one of the 7 prize packs with Jennifer Morrison’s autograph… Continue reading


How could we not celebrate TV? – World Television day

World Television Day

How important is TV in your life?

On 30 October 1925, John Logie Baird made the first transmission of a moving image (a human face) on a television.

Nowadays, can we imagine a world without TV?

I mean… seriously. Can you!?

I for one, can’t. Television is a medium that informs, entertains, provokes, discusses. Television opened up the world and, to this day, it provides us with the chance to take a peek beyond our own backyards and national borders.

We probably don’t even realize how much television influences our lives

On a small scale, imagine for example, that you’re doing groceries at a supermarket and you overhear people discussing the events that happened on their favorite soap opera last night.

“Robert married Laura. How could he? She cheated on him!”

And I’m sure many of you have laughed, cried and shouted together with your favorite Once Upon A Time characters, like Emma, and Regina; or with the six goofballs in Friends!

I also know for sure that there were moments throughout your life that you will always remember, simply because you’ve witnessed them on television.

For the Baby Boomers and their parents, the words…

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”

one-small-step-mankindwill probably be imprinted in their memory forever, because they saw the first moon landing happening live on TV. Our imagination was sparked and the world would never be the same again.

Or that moment in 1989 when the Berlin Wall was taken down.

The whole world was watching.

Not only the major events that are shown on TV have an influence on the world and how we perceive it. Did you know that a study showed that “ER” was responsible for Americans adopting a healthier way of life?

Or have you ever heard about the “CSI effect”? Jurors apparently have unrealistic expectations of forensic science and investigation techniques because of television crime shows.

Isn’t it crazy how much of an influence TV has on us?!

Of course, Television can’t fall behind on everything else in the world and needs its own day.

World Television Day

It is celebrated each year on the 21st November, and on this day we recognize the increasing impact television has on our lives.

More specifically, we celebrate television “as a symbol for communication and globalization in the contemporary world” (United Nations). Very formal, I know.

That’s why I am taking the poetic license to list down my favorite top 10 fictional TV shows to start this celebration in a lighter way. (Fangirls and boys out there, apologies in advance for any confronting gifs you are about to see. Sorry if I spoil you!)

Top 10 of my favorite TV shows

1. The Doctor and his companions – Doctor Who

The Tenth Doctor and Rose - Doomsday

2. Fairytales like you’ve never seen before – Once Upon A Time

Emma and Neal - Once Upon a Time

3. One of my first fangirl experiences – Charmed

Charmed - TV show

4. Mother and daughter and their entourage – Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls - TV show

5. I plead for a new series of – Gavin & Stacey

Gavin and Stacey

6. The famous British detective and his partner in crime – Sherlock

Sherlock - Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman

7. That group… – Friends

Friends - TV show

8. The show that introduced me to crime series – Crime Scene Investigation

CSI - TV show

9. The partly improvised show – Outnumbered

Outnumbered - TV show

10. The crazy Catherine Tate and her sketches – The Catherine Tate Show

The Catherine Tate Show - Lauren Cooper

Now we want to see your favorite TV show! Look for a gif image, and post it here below in the comments or send it to us via Twitter (@UDucklingsInc), using the hashtag #WeLoveTV and #WorldTVDay. We’re looking forward to receiving your entries!

– Maaike
Ugly Ducklings Inc’s Research Assistant
PS: If you see any of your gif images above and would like us to remove it or properly credit you, please email us at

What is spina bifida? We explain it with Once Upon a Time

what is spina bifida?

October is a very important month, can anyone guess why?

If you said Halloween, you would only be half right. October also happens to be Spina Bifida Awareness Month. Before I give it away and tell you all about it, let’s take a little quiz to see how much you might already know about it.

Pop quiz!

Learn about spina bifida with this quiz

Not so bad right???
I’m not gonna give you the answers just yet, but I will tell you that two out of five of these statements are true! Now I bet some of you are worried that your crazy co-worker or next door neighbor has Spina Bifida and now you’re gonna catch it. AHHHH!!!! Well, rest easy. Spina Bifida is not something you catch like a cold or a football, you’re born with it.

In order to best understand what Spina Bifida is, let me try and explain it by using objects and characters from a show that you may be familiar with, Once Upon A Time.

  • Belle’s chipped cup

Like the chip in Belles cup most people born with Spina Bifida have defect in their spine that does not close properly while in the womb. There are a few different levels of Spina Bifida, but all involve an imperfection in the spine/back.

  • The original 8 dwarves

Every day there are about 8 babies born with Spina Bifida, just like the original 8 dwarves (RIP Stealthy). It is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States

  • Pinocchio aka August Booth

Depending on where the opening is in the spine, there are several varying levels of disability and nerve damage. As August was turning back into wood, he had several characteristics as someone with Spina Bifida:

– Difficulty walking: paralysis (depending on where “chip” is on back; can cause one to walk like a penguin)

– Loss of feeling due to nerve damage

  • Hook’s Hook

Many people with Spina Bifida require assistive and adaptive equipment in order to function in a more independent manner. Killian needs his hook, and people with Spina Bifida need things such as leg braces, wheelchairs, and crutches to help them to get around easier.

  • Henry’s Storybook

Nobody knows the origin of the book just as no one knows exactly what causes Spina Bifida. Although research has shown that Folic Acid plays an important role in the prevention of Spina Bifida.

Given all this new information you have learned about Spina Bifida, what is it exactly that I want you to do with it? Great question! If it isn’t obvious by now, I have Spina Bifida but I am also a person. I have my own identities other than the one given to me by my disability. I am Jenny and I am also an individual with a disability. I am both!

I want each and every one of you who is reading this to take action and continue to educate yourselves on the many other aspects of Spina Bifida. There is a struggle within each individual, a good versus evil if you will, to either give into the disability and let it overpower them, or to push forward and make the most out of the cards that they have been dealt.

spina-bifida-awarenessIt is true, people with Spina Bifida can do extraordinary things! If Once Upon A Time has taught us anything, it’s to have hope. Hope begins with awareness and understanding. Please help to give hope to those with Spina Bifida who are afraid to be themselves.

Like Emma who is uncomfortable with the magic that is inside her, many people with Spina Bifida are struggling to be accepted as valuable members of society and as human being who are much more than just their disability.

So please continue to educate yourself and spread the word about Spina Bifida not only during this month, but throughout the rest of your life.

Creating a difference in the world takes a year-round effort, and it is ducklings like you who can make a difference in people’s lives. I hope you go out there and do amazing and magical things!!

For more information about spina bifida, click here!

– Jenny

learn about spina bifidaJenny is 25 years old, and she is an individual with Spina Bifida. She is a family therapist at a practice in Illinois called the Center for Identity Potential. When she is not working she enjoys the arts, such as singing, theater, drawing, and making fan videos.

Courtney’s Ugly Duckling Story

she found life again - Ugly Duckling Story


Trigger warning: Eating disorders, purging, self-harm, drug abuse, suicide

I just want to start off by saying thank you to Ugly Ducklings Inc for giving me the opportunity to share my story with all of you. Through my crazy year and recovery I’ve learned so much from the words I’ve heard from others and I hope I can somehow impact one of you as well.

My name is Courtney Leigh, (I love my middle name way too much to just leave it out) and I was born in Moscow, Russia. When I was six months old, I was adopted and started my childhood adventures in Springfield, Illinois. I was truly the “little princess” of the household. I had two older brothers, and for three years it was just me. I had the childhood almost any kid could dream of.

I had parents who were well off, so anything I wanted I pretty much got at the drop of the hat. When I was three, I began ballet and had parents who supported me 100%. When I was four, my parents went back to Russia and adopted my baby sister. And even then with an extra little girl in the house, we always got what we wanted. My parents, my family, anyone who knew us instantly could realize we had the dream childhood.

When I was about five or six I began to be bullied. It was about weight, my hair, my chubby cheeks, I was tall, anything these kids could think of it was brought up. I never wanted to disappoint my parents and tell them about any negativity in my life so that’s when I started hiding things from them.

Courtney's ugly duckling storyI always thought if I never showed emotion I would never have to deal with anything. Really smart for a six year old in my opinion. I think when you are so small and you want to be accepted you will do what is necessary to convince yourself you fit in.

The more advanced in dance I got, the more self image and perfection took over my mind. I was eight and probably one of the most muscular girls of my age in the studio. So instantly that translated into “you are fat”. My costume sizes were getting bigger, my thighs were touching, and I was miserable. At nine years old I decided to stop eating. From such a young age I always saw food as such a negative thing. I did not see it as fuel or energy, but only as: ‘this is what makes you gain weight’. At this point, the bullying got to where I couldn’t go to school. I’d get so sick from starving and being so sad I couldn’t make myself go to school.

This pattern of no school, not eating, and being upset, continued into the sixth grade where it was brought up that I may in fact have an eating disorder. I was taken to a dietician once, and hated it. I pouted my way out of counseling. It got to a point of being so bad my parents switched me into the private school district in our town. Good idea right? Take the girl who’s been bullied for multiple years and move her into a school where her class size is only 20.

I ended up joining the cheer squad, (you’ll see how important this is later). Needless to say it was awful, I was bullied, I was starving myself, and then I picked up self harm and purging. I ended up telling the school I had mono for nine weeks while I stayed home because my malnutrition got to a bad enough point I couldn’t get off the couch. I couldn’t even walk up the stairs to my room. I somehow managed to pull myself together physically, and somehow made it out of there alive.

My freshman and sophomore year of high school I decided to try out for cheerleading, and I didn’t make it. I joined a competitive cheerleading squad and instantly fell in love with the sport, and I finally found somewhere I belong. Cheerleading was the one place I knew I could go and be happy. Then my junior year I somehow got the courage to once again try out for the school cheer squad and I made varsity. I also started drinking, smoking, my cutting got worse, and so did my eating disorder.

Continue reading

Kim’s Ugly Duckling Story

If you go to our Pinterest board called Ugly Duckling Stories, you will find Kim’s story under the name Maria. However, we are posting it today with her real name. Kim is one of our heroes, and after all the things she’s been through, she has shown us what girls are made of: courage, perseverance, hope, and love.

Leave us a comment for Kim, and check out the touching words she wrote a year after she sent this to us…

Trigger warning: suicide, sexual abuse, mental abuse

I am an Evil Regal that found love and got my life back because of Lana Parrilla and the TV show Once Upon A Time.
My story is one that is not easy to tell. My life was not the easiest to live.

When my father left us I was 8 years old; this is when I began having problems.

I have two younger siblings that automatically became my responsibility. My siblings and I dealt with abuse on a daily basis, both physical and mental. I cannot remember a happy moment ever in my childhood. My mom was so devastated because of the divorce that she decided to have a life of her own.

We bounced around between houses for years, until I was about 12. Then we were just left alone. Before we moved into a new house we lived in the country. There was a
boy that was friends with my brother that lived near by.

let your voice be heardHe was about 15 and I was 10. It took me years to realize what he did, but he molested me for 2 and a half years. I think about it everyday, and it has kept me from having a relationship with anyone. As a teenager I was pretty much a loner. My life at home was just as hard as life at school. I spent a lot of time alone in my room with my imagination and music.

I had so many dreams of being able to leave and build a new life for myself. I was forced by my mom to move in with my dad at 16. He is a drinker, and gets angry. My dad is also a very big racist that hates all things and people different from him. Therefore, life with him was not pleasant.

He trained me very well to hate as much as he did. I went around with so much anger inside of me and negativity. It was about 3 years ago that a light bulb went off and I changed completely, which angered everyone in my family. I am now a liberal, and support all equal rights, and women’s rights to choose. This is why most all of my family hate me.

I spend most of my days arguing and defending myself. I have dealt with depression off and on since I was 10, and bouts with anorexia and suicide as a teenager. Last year the depression came back strong, and the thoughts of hopelessness and suicide also. I have tried to get help but my family does not recognise it as an illness.

At 28 years old I had found myself alone with no way out but death. At this point, my lowest point, was when I found Lana Parrilla, one of the actresses from Once Upon a Time. As I watched the show, I found myself connected to the pain of Regina. She so desperately wanted happiness and to be loved, which is all I have ever wanted. As I researched more, I found the Evil Regal community and decided to join in.

Continue reading

Kelsey’s Ugly Duckling Story

It’s Autism Awareness Day, and we felt it was perfect to share again what Kelsey wrote to us last year. She got a Swan badge and her story is part of our Pinterest board. You can leave a message to Kelsey at the end of the post!

I’m a little nervous. I’m Kelsey I’m 19, almost 20, and I have Asperger’s Syndrome.

wish upon a star poem

Poem written by Kelsey

It is my strength, and weakness. Because of my autism, I am compassionate, hard working (I have two jobs: one at an amusement park, and one at the Disney Store), and probably one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

On the other hand, I struggle with making friends. I have only one friend and she’s awesome, and things that seem easy to you are hard to me, like reading books. I can read fine, but I sometimes don’t understand what I’m reading.

I graduated almost two years ago, and it was hard for me. Then, a miracle happened: a promo for once upon a time came on.

I am a die-hard Evil Regal. Regina, and I are exactly alike. She wants to be herself, to be accepted, and loved, but people don’t give her a chance. If they really got to know her they would see a kind soul that is broken, and needs help with picking up the pieces.

Poem about autism

Poem about autism. By Kelsey

Lana Parrilla is my hero. I even wrote to the granted wish foundation (a charity that grants wishes to people with disabilities) saying I want to meet my hero, and tell her thank you for being an inspiration to someone like me. I want to say how much I love her, her show, and character, and maybe a picture would be nice!

The show Once Upon a Time is my safe haven, I never miss it. To quote Mr. Gold, the show made me realize I’m a hero. I see the beauty in others, and I am kind to others and when there’s no one there I create it, so when I look in the mirror I’ll remember, that’s who I am.

Sometimes I want friends, sometimes I don’t. I don’t want all the fame, but I want someone to talk to. I want someone to accept and love me for who I am, so I don’t have to put my shield up.

It took a lot for me to write this. I’m glad you guys started a site like this. Once Upon a Time is magical, and the savior does save people.

– Kelsey

Sherry’s Ugly Duckling Story

Why I'm an Ugly Duckling banner

March is here and it’s the time of the year to create awareness on self-harm and the effects it has on so many teenagers, young adults and people from all walks of life.

That’s why we wanted to post the story that we got from Sherry* almost a year ago. Don’t hesitate to leave a message for her after this post, as we’ll pass your comments on to her. Remember that you can also check our Resources page in case you or a friend of yours need any help.  

Trigger warning: self-harm

My father left me when I was a month old. He had a choice whether or not he wanted to see me and he chose not to. I always thought it was my fault.

The one person I always had sticking up for me was my Grandma. She always made me feel loved even if I was having a hard time with my mom. On the 9th of March, 2007, I was told that she had terminal cancer and that I wouldn’t have much time left with her.

I cried for about three days straight and then, being the little 7 year old I was, I promised that I would be strong for us both until we had to say goodbye so that I could spend time with her while I could. On 18th March, 2007, my Grandma passed away but I never got the chance. This is the reason why I haven’t cried in the last 6 years.

I started looking for my father but could never find him. When I was 9, two years after she died, I started self-harming because I felt like I couldn’t handle everything that was going on in my life.

In January 2011, I saw the promo for Once Upon a Time and the first thing that caught my eye wasn’t the magic or the happy endings. It was the fact that a little boy that was close to my own age could find a lost parent and be able to have her in his life somehow.

My love for this show also helped me believe that I should value who I am…

Emma Swan showed me that even the least expected person can help others and that, even though it is just a show, that I am not alone. I am not the only person that people who know me call me strong but wants to fall apart.

I still self-harm but not as much because this show helped me realise that I am not alone there are other people who have been in this situation that can help me.

This is why I’m an Ugly Duckling.


*Name changed per poster’s request.

Jenn’s Ugly Duckling story

The ducklings who struggled and the swan that survived
Trigger warning: self-harm, cutting, suicide, alcohol abuse

I honestly don’t know where to begin and I’m certain this is going to be long. I hope that’s all right.

First and foremost, my name is Jenn. As a kid and into my teens, I was always extremely introverted. Shy seemed to be my thing and I have no idea why, now, looking back. I never had trouble making friends. But my group of friends were always extremely small and tightknit.

And outside of school, I never spent time with anyone but my parents and my sister. I was just happier that way. Fortunately, I was never bullied in school. I don’t know if we just didn’t have a lot of that in the school I went to, or if I was just blissfully unaware because of the fact that I so often just kept to myself. If I had to guess, I’d have to go with the latter.

Throughout high school, instead of hanging out with my school friends, outside of school, I spent my afternoons, and nights, and weekends on the internet, in chat rooms, talking to people online. People I didn’t have to see. People I didn’t have to worry were judging me. My self-esteem pretty much sucked, even though I was never given a reason for it to.

I found a community of people and learned about fan fic and “shipping” and realized that there was this whole, seemingly, underground world that I felt like I just fit into without question. In my late teens, I made a friend who I am still friends with to this day. I can officially say that I have known her for over half my life. We’ve visited each other several times over the years and she has continuously been a person I could count on no matter what was going on in my life.

Jenn, ugly duckling story.I spent my last couple of years in high school and even after I graduated, I immersed myself in television shows like Buffy and Roswell. And at some point I even decided that I didn’t want to just read fan fic anymore. I wanted to write my own. I’m not quite sure I ever went through that ‘awkward teenage’ phase that so many teens seem to go through these days. I guess I was a late bloomer. It was during all of this, going into my early 20’s when I started to realize that I was more drawn to the females in these stories. In the TV shows that I was watching. And I began to see that there was a reason I never wanted a boyfriend and felt completely put off by the one that I dated in my late teens.

It was my friend who helped me realize that whatever was going on with me was okay. That no matter what, she supported me and loved me. And come to find out, I was lucky all the way around. I found myself occasionally making comments about girls here and there and I never had to officially ‘come out’ to my parents. Unfortunately not everyone is lucky and for that my heart truly aches.

But. Even with all the support, albeit silent, I still found myself struggling with day to day things. Like simply being happy. Through most of my 20’s I struggled with depression and the only time I ever felt okay was when I would dig into my shows and lose myself in this somewhat ‘underground’ world of fanfiction and fairytales. It was my way to hide. But it wasn’t a way to heal.

My little sister, four years younger than me, was a little bit more social than I was. We didn’t have a whole lot in common, but at the end of the day… she was my sister and my best friend, and I couldn’t tell you a time when we were *ever* at odds with each other.

We always had each others backs. Whether it was silently, or by spending time with each other. Our parents split up around when I was 21 and my sister, 16 going on 17. It was around that time I noticed that she had started to hide herself away like I had been doing all my life. I knew she was depressed. But so was I. Regardless… we battled it out together.

That’s what sisters are for, right?

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