A 21-year-old life coach in London has become an Instagram star and viral inspiration after sharing her bikini photos and an inspiring video to help shed the shame she felt about scars left from 15 medical procedures.
Over the years Michelle Elman has suffered from a brain tumor, punctured intestine, obstructed bowel, brain cyst and hydrocephalus, Metro.co.uk reported. Each procedure left another scar that made it difficult for her to accept her body.
The first photo she shared on Instagram reached nearly 2,500 likes and had close to 900 comments. In part, her post read “People with scars can’t wear bikinis. This is what I have believed for the last 21 years of my life and when asked in January why I never wear bikinis, this horrible sentence came out of my mouth.”
“I was shocked – at myself! I had had 15 surgeries, a brain tumor, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, a cyst in brain and have lived for the last 21 years with a condition called hydrocephalus yet somehow my scars have always been the hardest part.”
PEOPLE WITH SCARS CAN’T WEAR BIKINIS This is what I have believed for the last 21 years of my life and when asked in January why I never wear bikinis, this horrible sentence came out of my mouth. I was shocked - at myself! I had had 15 surgeries, a brain tumour, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, a cyst in brain and have lived for the last 21 years with a condition called Hydrocephalus yet somehow my scars have always been the hardest part. They make already awkward moments in your adolescence even more uncomfortable - like taking your top off for the first time in front of your boyfriend, and made me feel even more isolated in a world where I felt no one could understand. At age 7, I tried on my first bikini and after receiving a range of reactions from disgust to pity, it soon became easier to hide away and be doomed to a life of tankinis and one-pieces. Why did I believe this? Because over the years, I have learnt that my scars make people uncomfortable. I had become ashamed of my body and soon other people’s disgust became my own and this was allowed to be the case because of one simple reason - I had no one to talk to about it. Well in January, I started to talk about it - all of it, and I want other people to join in on the conversation. Every human has scars, whether there are emotional and physical - they are part of our story and we should be proud of them. About a month ago, I finally faced up to wearing a bikini and although, I love my body thoroughly and have for many years - this was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, yet once it was on, it was one of the most liberating feelings to know that I wasn’t letting two pieces of material stop me from being comfortable in my own body. My belief is that no one should have to feel ashamed of their body, whether you have stretch marks or a C-section scar so... THIS summer, let’s stand up and be proud of our scars and what they represent - a story! Tag a friend below and lets make this the summer of scars! #scarrednotscared
After receiving an outpouring of support from other patients from all over the world, Elman created a video entitled “Scarred Not Scared.” She featured five followers who speak of the bullying they received as a result of their own scars and the effect it has had on their lives now, Metro.co.uk reported.
Michelle is also featured in the video, in which she shares the moment she realized she had to accept herself to truly live.
“At 15 I found my power with one sentence,” she said in the video. “It’s not about what happens to you. It’s what you make from what happens to you.”