Meet our “SUnShine of the Day”, Audra!
Audra has had her scars nearly all her life, but it has taken her a while to embrace them. She was 18 months old when she was burned by a cup of coffee that she pulled from the table. Between then and her sweet sixteen, she had six surgeries. It took her until she was 25 years old to look in the mirror because she did not want to see her scars.
The physical part of living with a burn injury was hard for Audra, wearing tight, itchy compression vests, enduring surgeries, and dealing with chemical peels, and the emotional part may have been even harder. As an adolescent girl, Audra just wanted to look like the other girls. She loved the cute tank tops and V-neck shirts that her peers wore, but she always felt like she had to cover up the scars on her chest. She felt ugly and less than feminine because her scars went between her breasts. She did not have cleavage like other girls, and this made her self-conscious. Although her scars were hidden under apparel, as she started dating, she was anxious about her scars being seen. For a time, her scars made her feel unattractive, held her back in relationships, and wreaked havoc on her self-esteem.
Audra speaks from her experience with hidden scars, or scars that can be hidden with clothing and non-facial scars. She notes that no matter how large or visible the scar, there is a mental and emotional element to dealing with burn injury. In her experience, people would comment on hidden scars by saying, “At least you can cover it up” or “Well, it didn’t get on your face.” Although well-intentioned, Audra comments that this can make the burn survivor feel guilty for their struggle to deal with their injury. Just like a person who has experienced domestic violence, racial profiling, or sexual assault, pointing out that their trauma could have been worse is not a helpful or welcoming approach. People dealing with the trauma of burn injury, whether their scars are hidden or visible, must learn to navigate the terrain of their injury and recovery.
In time, Audra embraced her scars and feels empowered. She hosts a podcast called “I’ve Got Scars Baby!” where she speaks with people from various backgrounds about their experience with their internal and external scars and how they empowered themselves. Audra wrote a song called “Scars” and has a book set for release this year called “I’ve Got Scars Baby! How to Embrace Your Scars and Power Your Purpose.”
She has also created an online course specifically for burn survivors entitled “A Burn Survivor’s Guide to Embracing Your Scars” where she gives specific tips and tools to empower burn survivors in their journey toward self- acceptance. She shows her scars easily and it feels good for her to do so.