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пятница, 31 марта 2017 г.

"We’re not perfect, but we’re beautiful"

These four super-women show that real beauty isn’t just about model looks, but courage, bravery and the ability to inspire others

'I refuse to let my burns hold me back'

Raiche Mederick, 16, is a media student who lives with her mum in Romford, Essex. She says:
"I was 18 months old when a house fire left me with third-degree burns over 70 per cent of my body. My brother Tyrel, then three, was playing in my room and accidentally dropped a lit match he'd somehow got hold of on to a flammable blanket in my cot. If it hadn't been for Mum dragging us outside a few minutes later, we'd both have died.

The women who prove real beauty isn't just skin deep
Tyrel was also badly injured with 30 per cent burns.
I was on a life-support machine for four months and needed round-the-clock care. I can't remember the accident, but Mum's told me Tyrel and I needed so much medical attention, the Billericay Burns Unit in Essex where we were treated was unable to accept any more patients as staff tried to save us. Thanks to their care, we both survived.
But surviving was only the start. As well as having five of my toes amputated, I've endured 30 skin graft operations over the past 14 years. The accident has left me with a facial disfigurement and permanent scars on my body. My head was so badly burnt that I lost most of my hair.

While I've never known anything other than the reflection I see in the mirror, others aren't so accepting. I can't walk down my own street without strangers gawping or, worse, looking scared of me.
When I was six, mum took me and Tyrel, now 18, to Disneyland. It was supposed to be the holiday of a lifetime, but when I got there I felt frightened and self-conscious. I'd never been surrounded by such huge crowds before and I found their horrified looks incredibly upsetting.

Raiche at Disneyland
At primary school, my classmates avoided holding hands with me during PE and didn't want to sit next to me. This only got worse at secondary school when children used to point and laugh. But Mum always told me to hold my head high and be proud of who I am.
I've never let my scars hold me back. After finishing my GCSEs, I secured a place to study media at college and I'm determined to become a music journalist. I also enjoy dressing up in the latest trends. If it's a special occasion I'll wear a wig, but I usually cover up my head with a scarf.
All of my friends have boyfriends, but I've never had one. I'm not ready for that step yet, but I definitely want a relationship in the future.
I've never blamed Tyrel for what happened, although he blames himself and that's affected his confidence. I'm much more comfortable with my appearance than he is.
For 10 years, I've volunteered at the Burned Children's Club in Essex. It provides rehabilitation support for young burns victims and their families. I've helped raise £500,000 through charity events and I also offer support to children wanting to know the reality of living with scars. It was a real boost to my confidence to win a News of the World Children's Champions Award for this charity work in March. And I was thrilled when Sharon Osbourne offered to be a patron of the charity after meeting me at the event.
I think true beauty comes from the inside, so I don't worry about my appearance. It's more important that I help other burns victims feel confident about their looks."

'Losing a leg didn't stop my beauty queen dreams'

Chloe's inspired other young amputees
Chloe Jones, 20, is a textiles student from Nottingham. She says:
"Just because I've lost part of my left leg doesn't mean I'm not still a beautiful woman. I proved that in May when I became the first amputee on the catwalk at the Miss Nottingham beauty pageant.
Six months before, I was walking home from university when I was hit by a car that had mounted the pavement after being shunted by a van. Lying under the wheels, waves of excruciating pain hit me. 'I've broken my leg,' I panicked. But when I looked down, what I saw took my breath away. There was blood everywhere and the lower part of my left leg had been almost totally severed. I could see the bone sticking out and my limb was just hanging on by some muscle.
I began to cry hysterically. Although I could feel the pain, it was hard to comprehend the mangled mess was my leg. When I arrived at the hospital, a doctor told me that I needed an amputation.
As I was wheeled into theatre my mind was racing. I thought about amputees I'd seen on TV and struggled to get my head round the fact I was going to become one of them.
Coming round from the anaesthetic, I asked to see how my leg looked. The sooner I did it, the sooner I could start coming to terms with what had happened. Pulling back the blanket on my bed, I saw my knee wrapped in bandages. Below that, there was nothing. Just a space where my leg had been.

Chloe with her fellow beauty queens
At first I felt very low. Would my life ever be normal again? Would I be able to walk? Would a boy ever fancy me? When people visited me and sat on the bed where my leg used to be, I'd cry. And I suffered from 'phantom' pains in the part that had been amputated.
The van drove off after the accident and the driver was never found. I felt angry that I had been left disabled and the person who caused it would never be punished. But as I looked at other people on my ward, depressed from losing limbs, I realised I couldn't let this ruin my life.
I was in a relationship at the time and, although my boyfriend Tony, 19, was a great support, we broke up just before I left hospital, two months after the accident. He was worried my injury would stop me enjoying a normal life and his fears pushed us apart, although we're still friends.
At the moment I use a wheelchair but I'm hoping to be fitted for a prosthetic leg soon, and my doctor has promised me I can get one that will allow me to wear my fave heels.
Entering Miss Nottingham was my way of showing how far I've come from those early dark days. It seemed like a really positive way of proving to myself that I could do whatever I wanted, even though I'm an amputee.
I loved taking part, wearing evening gowns and sexy nightclub wear, and wheeling myself down the catwalk in my chair. And I won the title of Miss Charity for the fund-raising I'd done for a local children's hospice.
Since I took part, young amputees around the world have contacted me through Facebook to say I've inspired them, which is fantastic. While what happened to me was devastating, I've found a courage I never knew I had.
I might have had my leg amputated, but my life isn't over. In fact, it feels like it's just beginning."

'Baring my body told the world I'd survived'

Sharon Adams, 46, is single and lives in Reading. She has four children - David, 27, Emma, 25, Lisa, 24, and Kirsty, 22. She says:
"Not many women my age would post topless pictures of themselves on Facebook - especially not after four children! But the photos were my way of showing the world I'd survived cancer. Baring my mastectomy scar was me saying: 'I'm still alive, still here and still beautiful'.
I'd never done anything like it before, but I wanted to strike a chord with other women who'd had a mastectomy and encourage them to be proud of their bodies too, while at the same time getting others to check their breasts.
I talked it through with my daughters, who all thought it was a great idea. My daughter Kirsty took the photos.
After putting them on my Facebook profile for all my friends to see, I received messages and phone calls telling me what a brave, inspiring act it was. So it was with disbelief that I read a message from Facebook saying they had removed the images because they were judged to be 'sexual and abusive'. I didn't know if I could appeal their decision and felt furious and helpless at the same time.
But nothing could have prepared me for the reaction of my friends, family and complete strangers who set up a Facebook group campaigning for my pictures to be put back online. Almost 1,000 people joined as my story spread across the web. Facebook eventually retracted its comments and I was able to re-post the images.
I'm now in touch with a lot of women who have had breast cancer, including two who had lumps investigated after seeing my photos. Knowing I've made a difference, and hopefully saved some lives, makes me so glad I had the courage to post those pictures.
It seems a world away from when I was first diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in January 2009. I immediately decided to have a mastectomy - I wanted the cancer out of my body as soon as possible. I had the op a month later, and as soon as I came round from the anaesthetic, I went to the bathroom to see what I looked like.
Nothing prepares you for seeing the body you've known all your life permanently changed. My right breast was gone. In its place was an angry red scar and my body looked lopsided, incomplete.
At first, I felt shocked and overwhelmed. But, after 10 minutes, a sense of relief washed over me. The cancer threatening my life was gone. My children weren't going to lose their mum to this disease. That was what really mattered.
After the initial shock wore off, I realised I did still feel attractive. I wasn't any less beautiful - and I was still me. In a few weeks, I'll have my other breast removed too because I don't want to give the cancer a chance to return. I'm not nervous. I know I can live happily without my breasts.
My scars are my battle wounds. They're a symbol of my fight for survival, and a reminder of how lucky I am to have won."

'Bullies made me bald - now I'm a model'

Shanea Gaiger, 39, from Barry, South Wales, lives with her husband John, 39, and their four daughters, Jade, 17, Derryn, 15, Tasmin, 11, and Mercy, five. She says:
"Posing in front of the camera for a modelling job, it's hard to believe that just five years ago I wouldn't even look at my reflection in the mirror unless I was wearing a wig.
I started losing my hair at eight years old after being badly bullied at school. Doctors diagnosed me with stress-related alopecia and by the time I was 11, I was left with just a couple of tufts. My baldness gave the bullies another reason to pick on me and my school years were miserable. There weren't the same wigs available for children then as there are now, so I had to make do with thick hairbands and headscarves to hide my head.
As a teenager, I had no confidence and was certain I'd never get married and have kids. Who'd find me attractive?
My hair briefly grew back when I was around 14, and for the first time in years, I felt normal. I even had a boyfriend for a while, although it wasn't serious. But when I was 19, my hair began to fall out again. I was devastated.
Then, when I was 20, I met John. We were both in the Army - I worked in admin and he was a soldier - and there was an immediate spark. I explained about my alopecia straightaway and showed him my head. He told me I was beautiful and that he loved me, not my hair, but I couldn't believe him. I didn't love myself - how could anyone else?

Shanea now does modelling
Even when we married three months after meeting, with me wearing a hat, I still found it hard to believe he could find me attractive. For years, I hid under wigs. But after my youngest child Mercy was born five years ago, I realised I didn't want my girls growing up seeing their mum ashamed of how she looked.
I decided to lay myself bare for the first time ever and asked a photographer friend to take some photos of me naked and without my wig. When I saw the end result, I cried. Having wasted years hating myself, I finally felt beautiful.
After the photographer put the photos on his website, I started getting enquiries about modelling, and since then I've worked on everything from posing for a nude portrait to appearing in a fine arts magazine.

While in the past I'd hide at the sight of a camera, now I love showing off my baldness. Being bald is who I am. And I'm not going to hide ever again."
This article has 12 comments
Well done to all of you, but I was like Sharon in Aug 08, after having had the same. Aged 42.
It has been sheer hell, but after Reconstructive surgery, then having it removed after 1 year,Ii now have implants in and the scar looks alot better after applying oil each day.
I wear my prettiest bras every day and have learnt to except it.
My tumours were caught weeks away from spreading after I checked myself for 9 YEARS, as I lost my mum to the awful disease in July 01.
July 10th, I am CELEBRATING AS 2 years since Diagnosis. I am winning at this so far.
Well done for the feature. 
By Sue Helps.. Posted June 13 2010 at 6:55 PM.
Wow, you women are so brave and inspiring. Thank you, NOTW, for featuring such positive stories. 
By Cookie.. Posted June 12 2010 at 7:45 PM.
All brave Ladies and all beautiful within, I would be proud to be in their presence. And I'm sorry for all the ignorance you have faced from small minded people, who don't deserve to be on the same streets as you.. thank you..
By Kenn Thorogood.. Posted June 12 2010 at 11:20 AM.
A big hug to all the women. X
By ninna.. Posted June 10 2010 at 10:12 PM.
Well done! Thank you for sharing. Chloe still looks stunning!
By Bill.. Posted June 6 2010 at 11:12 PM.
I am 38 years old and was born with a tumour on the right side of my face. I have had 12 operations. I would like to share my experiences with others and how strong and confident the effect has made me.
By chris stitson.. Posted June 6 2010 at 6:16 PM.
i have got vitiligo, it has been with me since i was about 4 years old. i have been through different feelings with it over the years. especially when it was really noticable, dark brown patches with my white skin. i am now nearly all white, my hair still is brown, with some grey in. it is lovely to know we are all different in life, we all get insecure with who we are. sometimes it is difficult to except the way we are. especially when you see perfection in papers with people with lots of money to improve themselves. but money cannot always buy everything, eg, happiness,stopping you from getting older, also health. when i feel a bit down with my looks i try to remind myself the lovely life i have. you are welcome to contact me any time, if you would like to do an article about being pale with vitiligo, or about living with vitiligo, and what it is.
By lorraine vincent age 38.. Posted June 6 2010 at 4:51 PM.
Truly beautiful and inspirational all the ladies should be applauded.
Thank-you for the article
By Ben.. Posted June 6 2010 at 2:16 PM.
I'd be proud to date any of these brave ladies!
By Ken Clark.. Posted June 6 2010 at 9:35 AM.
I don't judge a book by its cover,
Or the size of my next lover.

For I seek the beauty within,
And not just that upon the skin.

For there is beauty in all I see,
Though some would disagree.

Fortunately, they are but a few,
With ignorance in what they do.
By James Stonier.. Posted June 6 2010 at 7:47 AM.
I'm so glad these girls are so beautiful and brave to live their life despite their small setbacks. They all should be very proud with themselves.
By Turry.. Posted June 6 2010 at 2:39 AM.
thanks ladies for sharing.

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