This Viral Photo Is Making People Reevaluate Their Insecurities

Michelle Elman is using her Instagram account to spread a positive message about body image. The 23-year-old Londoner posts photos of herself alongside inspiring messages about learning to love yourself. One of her pictures went viral recently, detailing her own journey to personal self acceptance. Though she boasts wonderful confidence today, it wasn't always so easy. She's underwent 15 surgeries in her lifetime to treat a brain tumor, punctured intestine, obstructed bowl, brain cyst, and hydrocephalus. Her scars used to bother and embarrass her,but now she knows they show the strength of her body . 

"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," Michelle wrote on her viral post. "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!"

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

A post shared by Michelle Elman (@mindsetforlifeltd) on

Michelle's Instagram account is an amazing space for people who are also struggling with body image issues. She's frequently posting photos of her beautiful, strong body to help others reach the same level of acceptance and positivity that she has. 

WHY I AM IN BODY POSITIVITY - I worried more about my head being shaved than a brain surgery - I worried more about the scar that was created in a 12 hour surgery than whether I would survive that surgery - I worried about having a permanent bald patch on my head more than I did about the fact I had a brain tumour - I worried about weight gain when I started eating after 3 months, rather than celebrating the fact that I was recovered enough to let food pass my lips - I worried about my hair falling out from the multiple surgeries more than I worried about the effect of that anaesthesia on my body - I worried about how slow I was running instead of being grateful for my ability to move - I worried more about what people would say about my body than the fact that my body still worked - I worried more about not being treated like a "weirdo" than processing my emotions - I worried if my body would be the deciding factor to not date me than the fact that the person I date must be there to support my illnesses too - I worried more about the stigma of mental and physical illness more than I worried about myself AND MOST OF ALL... I am in body positivity because each sentence above was written in the past tense and that is only possible because of body positivity. My body positivity is intrinsically linked to my hospital experiences. Every serious incident came with superficial worries about the consequence on my appearance. Every day when I should have been thinking about very real life or death situations, I instead worried about what I looked like. It's why I continue to embrace my scars and why they symbolise more than the physical marks on my body. In every sense of the word, I am Scarred Not Scared #scarrednotscared

A post shared by Michelle Elman (@mindsetforlifeltd) on

We absolutely love Michelle's positive message. You go, girl! 

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