Accredited life coach and activist Michelle Elman brings a whole new meaning to #NoFilter on Instagram. The British beauty puts her scars on display on the social media platform to bring awareness to the marks that are often overlooked in the body positivity movement.
Michelle, 23, has undergone 15 surgeries since the age of one, with her most recent taking place last September. She has endured a lot in her life, including a brain tumor, an obstructed bowel, and a cyst in her brain — but she's choosing to use her body to end the stigma around scars once and for all.
"I couldn't see anyone even talking about scars so I decided to start talking about my own experiences," she told Life & Style exclusively. She went on to launch her campaign, Scarred Not Scared, in 2015 and revealed her scars in a bikini for the first time. Her main goal: to help women not feel alone.
"There are 23 million people with a scar in the world so it's not the minority, it's just never seen," she explained. "The main misconception around scars comes from the cartoons we see growing up or even movies where characters like Doctor Evil in Austin Powers has a scar across their face — it perpetuates the idea that scars are ugly and that's what I hope will change with seeing more people embracing their scars."
That's not to say living with scars doesn't present its own set of challenges — especially when it comes to relationships. "My dating life was the first time I had to confront my issues around my scars. When I am dressed, you can't see most of my scars so it was when I had to take my top off for the first time, I had to start having a conversation around my scars," she admitted. "I've definitely had a range of reactions to my scars in my dating life but ultimately I see it as a system to weed out the guys I wouldn't want to be with anyway — my scars are just a mechanism for me to find out early."
With over 60,000 thousand followers and growing, Michelle hopes to use her social media presence to teach women to appreciate their bodies and not let insecurities win. "The first piece of advice I give to any client is that body confidence is an option for you and you don't need to change your body in any way to achieve it," Michelle said. "I also hope they see how liberating it is to not live life hating yourself every day and that it will encourage them to start being more compassionate to themselves on a daily basis."