Insecurities can stem from anything, but one woman is taking on social norms by leading others on a mission to prove that scars of any kind are not to be ashamed of.
Instagrammer Michelle Elman has had 15 surgeries throughout her lifetime. In 2015 she posted a picture in a bikini for the first time, explaining that she wants to finally show off her body, and her scars, without feeling awkward or uncomfortable. She used the hashtag #ScarredNotScared, and has since started a movement of the same name, encouraging other women to feel great about themselves.
Since then, Elman has been making powerful, confidence-boosting videos – and her latest one is the most touching yet.
In it, she and a group of woman recite a poem, written by Elman. The powerful words, such as “Even actors have no marks – not even a scar. Because that would be too realistic; not pretty, no matter who you are,” struck a chord with followers, who wrote “This brought me to tears.”
Elman told : “It is an extremely body positive video to open up the conversations of scars and to challenge the preconceptions around beauty.”
And it’s not the first time she’s challenged beauty standards. Earlier this year, Elman shared a picture of a dress she bought five years ago when she was four dress sizes smaller, and which still fits now.
She told : "Numbers are numbers, they can't measure how healthy you are and they can't measure how happy you are in your body. There's no point in having a small dress size if you have to deprive yourself or miss out on your life in order to achieve that number.
“I was simply grateful for having survived so many surgeries, and still having the ability to use my body was a gift."
That's the sort of attitude to aspire to, right?
I have a secret… I wear maternity jeans! And no, I'm not pregnant. I do however have a number of scars across my tummy that jeans dig into. The difference between above my scar and below my scar is about an inch, if not more so either I had a perpetual builders bum or I would be in so much physical pain with a belt, it honestly wasn't worth it. So about 4 years ago, I stopped wearing jeans. I wore leggings and at a push, jeggings until January, when it occurred to me that maternity jeans might work. AND THEY DID. When I ordered them, I felt slight shame. After all, I am a size 20 so being confused as a pregnant person is a common occurrence for me that first started happening when I was 13… yes 13! But all that was outweighed (ha…pun) by the fact that I WAS WEARING JEANS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 4 YEARS. Also no one had to know. Or so I thought. I first wore them on a day that I happened to be filming with @bodyposipanda , @amyeloisew, @franhayden and @hopefuleri … and when you are filming, they often lift up your top slightly to put the microphone on your waistband. Well the camera guy, got a shock. And I had a choice in that moment to feel embarrassed or not care. No prizes for guessing which one I chose. So even though I felt uncomfortable at this stranger realising I was wearing maternity jeans I just joked that they were so comfy and kept my belly warm in winter. Since then, I've not looked back. Forget which part of the store your jeans comes from. If it fits and doesn't hurt you, then that is the BETTER OPTION. Forget the connotations of you "looking pregnant" It works and that's what is important. We give all these labels on clothing way too much importance… shop in all sections, whether it petite, tall, small, men's, women's, maternity or even children's. So yes my jeans come from the maternity section but I'm so happy these jeans exist so my scar doesn't need to be in pain to just wear a pair of jeans! It's the simple things really #ScarredNotScared
I've never done one of these photos cause I hate to draw a comparison. To me, these 2 images aren't comparable. The overwhelming thing I see in the photo on the left is fear. I was terrified. Back in 2013, I didn't know what body positivity was, but I was defs body positive. I loved my body + that's what made that time so much harder. How can a body that love me do this to me AGAIN? My body wasn't doing anything TO me, it was trying to save me. Both versions of me are me doing the best I can, with the knowledge I had and the resources I had available to me. And my confidence would have never wavered if I had realised that my health doesn't dictate my worth. One version of me is not better because she is healthier, or is more able, or is capable of walking. Inspirational? Here is my issue. This was the 2nd most painful time in hospital + I still struggle to talk about the time that tops this. I cry when I think about the pain I went through. I was far from the perfect patient, I yelled, I screamed, there were times at 19 years old, I refused to surface from under my duvet. "Inspirational" seems to take away from all of that. "Inspirational" makes me feel that I'm not allowed those emotions. "Inspirational" makes me feel like I did it for the praise, not because I HAD NO FUCKING CHOICE. "Inspirational" makes me feel like you don't understand the gravity of the situation. How truly shit it is to lie in a bed all day everyday for 6 weeks, torn away from your life, without food or water passing your lips once. Then I think about it + it's not the word I take problem with. It's how it was used against me in hospital to force me to be happy + grateful. It's the fact that no ONE word can summarise it. No one word is enough to explain how I feel about this time in my life. This time in my life, like every other hospitalisation ruins me. It wrecks the life I've been building since the last time + frankly I'm never going to be ok about it. It's left me with scars that are far deeper than any smiley face on my tummy. I am not a survivor. I am not a success story. I'm just a woman with a shitty past that really still fucking hurts to think about. #ScarredNotScared