Dear JR Martinez,
It was great to see you on Dancing With The Stars on Monday night! I'd never heard of you before, so the show had to fill me in on your background as a war hero who'd survived terrible injuries to go on to a successful career in TV. Still, by the end of your first dance, my husband and I were both rooting for you to win the whole thing!
Your waltz with Karina was extremely impressive, graceful and expressive and technically pretty damn good for week one! But more than that, we found your story to be inspiring in a personal way.
You see, my husband, a Marine who served during the 1st Gulf War, also suffered from disfiguring facial injuries. It took many years and many surgeries to repair the damage. What I learned from him is that, no matter how enlightened and "un-shallow" people may try or pretend to be, the way you look really does matter in how people treat you. When you have severe facial injuries, people just treat you differently, even if they swear they don't. People stare rudely, and sometimes ask inappropriate questions. The doctor who did my husband's surgery had a policy of always recommending therapy to facial reconstruction patients — that's how psychologically difficult is is to be stuck with a face that you don't recognize in the mirror. It profoundly changes the way you relate to others and the way you view yourself.
So it was surprisingly uplifting to see how confident and carefree you were, right there on live TV, getting dressed to the nines and romancing sexy Karina, every inch the suave leading man. You joked around and got into character and made the whole thing seem so easy and natural, more so than a lot of other "stars" who've been on the show. I'm not surprised that someone with a military background could learn a dance so masterfully in six weeks — I've also learned from my husband about the rigorous discipline that military training instills in a person. But I'm beyond impressed that someone who's been through what you've been through can be so comfortable in his own skin, even in an unfamiliar environment, covered in glittery stage makeup, and trying to remember dance steps!
We're pulling for you to go all the way to the finals, JR, as I'm sure people all around the country are. Have fun dancing, and please keep being your amazing self!