Part one: Inspiration
When I was 9 I was in a propane explosion. Left with scars to 45% of my body. The worst, my face. A freak accident that turned me into exactly that. A freak. That’s how I felt anyway. I had to wear this god awful mask for 24 hours a day. Every day. For years. It was hot. It stunk. It looked scary to kids, and even to some adults. I didn’t just look like a freak, I felt like one too. No one looked like me. No one had these scars. No one understood. No one loved me for me. At least that’s how I felt. I had my family who didn’t ever leave my side. And a handful of friends who would punch out anyone who made fun of me. Those are the people who helped ensure I survived. Those are the people who cared. Who didn’t make me feel like a freak.
Strangers were the worst. Kids and adults. They’d stare. Call me names. I hated my scars. I remember scratching at my face at night, crying, begging God to just let me wake up and be fucking normal. Why did this happen to me? What the hell did I do? As much as I hated my scars, I never tried to cover them up. Except once. In grade 7 I tried wearing cover up on my face. But I felt like a clown. And even more of a freak, if that was possible. Eventually, years later I learned how to love my scars. I accepted them. I told myself I’m beautiful, and so is every scar on my body. I do wear eye makeup sometimes. Just because. But for this shoot I choose not to wear any. Or any jewellery. Because my whole life I’ve just wanted people to see ME. My scars aren’t me. So don’t just look at them. But they are apart of me. So please accept them. Accept me. For me.
After I got burned and for years after I kept asking God why me? Why did this happen? My dad used to tell me that if he had to choose which kid of his had to go thru this, he would have chosen me. Because he knew I was strong enough to survive…and thrive. I remember one time (of many) as a teen crying to my mom that I wouldn’t be able to do anything because of my scars. They were going to hold me back. My mom embraced me, dried my tears and said “Joy. There isn’t anything you can’t do. You’ve proven that already. You could be the next Oprah if you wanted. She had so many odds against her and look where she ended up. You can do that too”. I didn’t ever think I could be the next Oprah. Come on. It’s Oprah. But then, the past couple of years I felt the need to interview other people who’ve been through their own kind of hell. That’s what Scarred, Not Broken is about. Showing those that have been thru hell that they’re not alone. That others have been there too. Not just burns. Any tragedy. Any traumatic life changing event. Any survivor. And who better to interview these people than someone who has also been there. Someone who can understand where they’ve been. Someone who has compassion and understanding. Someone who has faith and believes that there is always a light at the end of the struggle. Next Oprah? I don’t know. Those are some pretty incredible shoes to fill. But I’m going to try. Even if my interviews only inspire one person, instead of a million, then I’ve succeeded. But my goal is to reach millions. Because there are millions of survivors all over the world. Survivors who need to share their story, to help others who are going through a tragedy similar to theirs. Dream big!
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