Book of the Month: June
With their personal and authentic stories, our human books help challenge stereotypes, stigma and prejudice – all over the world! To highlight these amazing individuals, each month we bring a portrait of one of our bestsellers. With the help from our outstanding book depot managers and librarians from all over the globe, we can give you insight into one of our books story, message, and thoughts.
The book of the Month for June is 58-year-old, Ingrid van Hamont, a native of Tilburg, the Netherlands. She has been a human book for 4 years and is a part of the incredible collection, at the Human Library Tilburg. She has been published approximately 40 times – and have held lectures for larger audiences twice. Being published with the titles AEC Syndrome and Bald Lady, Ingrid recons that a lot of readers have similar immediate questions: what is AEC syndrome? Why are you bald? Did you get bullied a lot? How did you cope? And especially people’s perception of her fragility is something Ingrid meets a lot:
“As a result of my condition, my baldness, I look like I’m more vulnerable than I am. Others think I am bald as a result of chemotherapy. The effect is that they sometimes avoid me or want to protect me.”
Ingrid describes that this behavior – based on prejudice or misunderstandings – was the main reason for her joining the Human Library.
“People with prejudices do not only injure another person, but also themselves. I want to make people aware of the fact that they have prejudices and what effect they can have, on that other person, but also on themselves, and for me personally. I wanted to show people my strength. What is more, I wanted to show them that my baldness is in fact my strength. However, I don’t feel the need to prove myself anymore.”
Besides helping challenge prejudice, Ingrid has gained more self-confidence, and through the Human Library, se feels heard. Each reading gives her energy and she thoroughly enjoys meeting the readers:
“Every conversation is interesting because it is different every time. Because readers often share their own stories, see points of contact, and have questions. It is wonderful to be able to help others move forward in such an open-minded and relaxed atmosphere.”
“It is important to be part of HL because it connects people.”
Ingrid points out, that the most valuable part of the Human Library, is the open-minded atmosphere which allows peoples genuine interest in another person, and personal stories, to blossom. She states that the effect of the readings, often is that the readers go home filled with different insights – and furthermore, the books leave with a greater self-appreciation and self-confidence, as a result of others genuine interest in them.
Besides the contact with the readers, Ingrid’s most valuable experience with the Human Library, was when she was used for PR:
“That my picture was used in PR for the 2018 edition was a very special moment for me, a milestone. For a large part of my life, I hardly dared to let myself be seen or heard. My photo, large as life on a poster was a very visible result of what I have achieved in terms of personal growth.”
Ingrid has a very clear message to readers all over the world: don’t try to deny having prejudice, acknowledge them, and keep an open mind. She states that it is important, to not think of prejudice as a negative:
“Having prejudices is human. We fill in the blanks based on experiences that we go through in our lives and based on stories that we hear. That is not a problem in itself; it provides people with certainty, predictability. However, it is crucial that we are aware that we are filling in blanks, aware of the fact that we are creating our own version of the truth, that need not at all coincide with a different person’s reality. A human being is more than just the label that he or she has been given.”
If you want to know more about Ingrid – or AEC Syndrome – you can visit her website: www.individunica.nl (in Dutch) or https://www.orpha.net (look for AEC syndrome or Ectodermal Dysplasia). Even better, make sure to stay updated through our facebook where you can get information on upcoming Human Library events – this way you can get to experience Ingrid and all of our incredible titles, all over the world!