Meet our December Scarlight, Jessie M! I connected with Jessie in my Scars to Confidence Facebook Group earlier this month. She sent me a direct message to provide her support for Scar Power and to share her story with me. Jessie had been in a horrible car accident that left visible scars on her face – an event that changed her both physically and mentally. I asked Jessie if she would like to share her story though the Scarlight platform, and she excitedly agreed!
Here is Jessie’s story below.
“In the summer of 2012, I was in a head on collision with a drunk driver who was on the wrong side of the highway. I don’t remember the accident, but I woke up to the paramedics and fire fighters cutting me out of my car. I felt all over my body, wondering if I was injured. I saw blood, but I didn’t know where it was coming from. I moved up to my face, and my stomach dropped.
The left side of my face was absolutely battered. I was in a state of shock. There was an initial 5-hour reconstructive surgery, and over the past eight years, I’ve had 5 other procedures. I had huge lacerations on my face that went down to my bone. My orbital bone was broken, and the muscle above my left eye slashed to the point where I couldn’t open it. I almost lost the vision in that eye. I also suffered from a partial lung collapse, a liver laceration, and a very bruised up body.
A day after the main surgery, I took a look at myself in the mirror, and I didn’t even recognize myself. I thought I looked like a monster, like Frankenstein. For a few years after, I had conflicting feelings about the whole incident. I was grateful to be alive- all the doctors, nurses, everyone told me they were shocked I lived. I was angry with the woman who hurt me. I felt this huge disconnect with myself, looking at a face I no longer recognized. I had never felt so vulnerable.
The face IS the center of our identities. And let’s face it, the world is far more critical of women’s looks. I couldn’t hide my scars with concealer or clothes. I felt so exposed. People would stare, a lot. They would ask questions, and some people even said hurtful things. I had to embrace that physical beauty is not really what matters. Our tenacity for life is really what matters.
My grandpa has a phrase, “Tengo la sangre de los nativos – I have the blood of the natives.” His father would say that to him in times of weakness or self-doubt. I now embrace the scars I have and let them serve as a reminder that I survived. That I have a story, and depth. That I am stronger than I realize.”
Questions for Jessie
I asked Jessie a few questions below:
- Why do you want to be featured in a Scarlight?
“I would love to share my story and help others to know that we can find strength and pride in our scars.”
- How has your story shaped your life’s perspective?
“It’s made me feel so many things. To be grateful for every day I wake up, to be grateful for fresh air, music, and loved ones. To not sweat the little things. To embrace and accept flaws, and embrace that beauty is subjective and comes in all forms. My story and my scars have given me more confidence. At some point, I felt the burden of physical perfection lifted off my shoulders. After the accident, I had people tell me “you still look so beautiful though.” I appreciated the thought, but it really made me evaluate things. I know I’m still beautiful despite my scars, but my identity does not belong to beauty, or beauty standards, and nobody should be made to feel that way. I decided I wanted to be seen as strong, resilient. quirky, artistic, and caring. I started to see myself in a different light and I loved it.”
- What is the most important thing that you have learned about yourself through your journey?
“I’ve learned that I am so much stronger than I ever thought I could be. Over time, it all ignited a fire in me. I sought out new endeavors such as Muay Thai and boxing. Over time, I’ve gained confidence that I never had as a child or in high school. I learned to let go. To try things that scare me, to challenge myself. I often wonder what life would have been like if I had never been in the accident and never had these scars. I truly feel grateful now for everything that experience brought me.”
- What is one lesson that you can share with others that will inspire them?
“Let go of the small things. The things that consume a lot of people. I have learned that I can’t sweat the superficial situations we create. I used to get bent out of shape about my appearance to the point where it was debilitating. Have unruly hair sometimes, and don’t worry about your makeup or about being perfect. Get sweaty, go jump in that lake and don’t worry about your mascara. Don’t get upset about zits or your birthmarks. In the end, that’s not what matters. It is what’s inside that makes you, you!”
I honor Jessie for her bravery and sacrifice to not only embrace her story and her scars for herself, but also become a beacon of light for others. She is passionate about the pressure that women face to display perfection in society and in sports, and how social media perpetuates this point. I am looking forward to getting to know Jessie more and to hopefully work with her on future projects.
To learn more about Jessie story, please check out her video narrative below!