1. Last week, Michelle Elman, a 21-year-old from London, decided to confront her insecurities surrounding her surgery scars and uploaded this bikini shot to Instagram.
2. Part of the caption reads:
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.
3. Elman’s scars used to make her feel so ashamed that she would hide her body.
The scars are the result of 15 surgeries, a brain tumor, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, a brain cyst, and a condition called hydrocephalus.
When undergoing the surgeries Elman would worry about the marks they would leave. “I insisted that they cut on top of a previous scar so that they didn’t create a new one,” she told BuzzFeed News.
4. Elman said that at school she would regularly receive nasty comments from people about her appearance.
“At school someone pointed at at my scar on my chest and said my nipple was showing, and then when I told them it wasn’t a nipple, they teased me for having a third nipple. I’ve also had friends of the family when I was sunbathing tell me my scars will mean a boy will never be interested in me.”
5. When Elman wore a bikini for the first time she was constantly asked about her scars. It made her never want to wear a two-piece again.
6. Most of the comments on her newest Instagram image have been incredibly positive, such as this one from a user who wrote that her “stomach is smiling” in the picture.
Elman said she’s received a lot of photos from people she’s inspired: “So many people saying they went swimming for the first time in many years – one woman used to swim competitively and hadn’t been in the pool since she 12 because of her weight!”
7. Not all the comments have been nice. One person wrote: “Nothing wrong with wearing a bikini just because you have scars … however not when you are morbidly obese.” Elman fought back with this badass video:
“In summary, kiss my arse… I’m going for a swim!”
8. Elman currently works as a body confidence coach, teaching people to love their body and to love themselves.
“Whenever I have been hospitalised, I usually can’t walk for months, and for me that’s where my appreciation for my body was born,” she told us. “Every morning, that I can put my feet on the floor – I am grateful.”