Prior to age 20, Michelle Elman underwent 15 surgeries involving a brain tumor, a punctured intestine, a stuffy bowel, a brain cyst, and a condition called hydrocephalus. After noting the lack of representation for people with scars on the Internet, the UK-based Body Confidence Coach 2015 decided to tackle the issue directly when she showed a photo of herself rocking a two-piece swimsuit on Instagram.
Part of Elman's caption reads: About a month ago, I finally faced wearing a bikini, and although I love my body thoroughly and have been for many years, this has been one of the hardest things I've ever had It was one of the liberating feelings to know that I was not deterred by two pieces of material from feeling comfortable in my own body. In my opinion, no one should be ashamed of his body, whether you have stretch marks or a caesarean scar … THIS summer, let us stand up and be proud of our scars and what they represent ̵
The photo became thousands of likes on Instagram. The photo became viral – until 2018 and Elman is now the author of a thoughtful memoir titled Am I Ugly? her decades-long journey to body posture to overcome several life-threatening health issues and how this requires self-esteem.
I talked to Michelle Elman about Am I Ugly? They inspire strangers to love themselves, to engage in Internet trolls, and much more:
How do you rate the body-positivity movement as a whole? Do you like where to go or is there room for improvement?
I still strongly believe in the positive attitude of the body, and I believe that the criticism of lack of inclusiveness in the long run will strengthen the cause. I think we need to protect our movement and make sure it works for the people for whom it was always meant to be.
What do you want people to understand about body positivity?
I want people to realize that body posture and body trust are different and different things. Body Positivity is a political movement created to combat the oppression of people living in marginalized bodies and to end the stigma they face daily. Body confidence is your personal journey and relationship with your body. You can be physically positive without feeling confident, and you can be physically confident without being physically positive.
How do you deal with negative comments in social media?
I'm virtually immune to comments about my appearance because I do not consider myself to be my look, but it's the comments about my character or personality that influence me. On a good day I do not care, but on a bad day, every word hurts as if my best friend says so I make sure that it has nothing to do with the comment much more with what at that moment happened in my life.
Were you the first time you launched your platform, surprised by the overwhelming amount of positive feedback you received from strangers?
four years, so it is quite gradual. At the beginning, when I talked about scars in particular, the feedback was seldom positive. At the time, many people believe that scars should not be seen and that it was not "necessary" to be discussed, and I am proud to be part of the change in attitude to scars.
Tell me about I'm ugly. What motivated you to write this?
Am I Ugly are my memoirs, the story of me going through 15 operations, and the effects they had on my body confidence. I believe that illness is an important aspect of body posture that is not discussed enough, and my book really sheds light on this.
For people without illness, it gives them a perspective and lets them see the health they take for granted day. It focuses on creating the foundation for your body to be respected and valued. What prompted me to sit down and write was when I was in a hospital bed at 19, I was convinced that I would die, and I was obsessed with leaving something lasting in this world. Everything I've done with my life so far has been to study, and I wanted my life to be more important – so I started writing.
Follow Michelle Elman on Instagram @ scarrednotscared and @bodypositivememes.
Princess Gabbara is a multimedia journalist and storyteller. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @PrincessGabbara . Visit their website at princessgabbara.com.