Bullies call burn victim “alligator skin,” but take a look at her now thanks to her daughter
In today’s society, females seem to be valued on the basis of their looks. As a result of this valuation, many young girls can feel insecure— and judgmental people and bullying definitely don’t help.
Joy Zylstra, a 33-year-old mother from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has experienced all of that and more after being horrifically burnt over 45% of her body at the tender age of 9-years-old.
The accident occurred during a family trip to a cabin in the mountains. Unbeknownst to Joy, the cabin’s propane oven had been leaking, and the room had filled with invisible gas. When she went to go light a candle, she was immediately ignited.
She tells Caters News, “Next thing I knew, I opened my eyes and could see a million sparks all over the ground, I was terrified and screamed. Later, while being picked up by my father, I remember seeing a big flap of skin on my left arm just hanging there, as well as the horrified look my sisters’ faces.”
The burns were severe, affecting everywhere that had not been covered by clothing.
Doctors were not sure if Joy would survive the accident, isolating her in a warm room to prevent her body from going into shock. Miraculously, however, after 5 weeks of hospitalization and 4 skin grafts, Joy was released— but her life would never be the same.
She experienced severe bullying as a result of her burns. People would call her everything from ‘freak’ to ‘alien’, but one comment always hurt the worst.
She tells Caters News, “‘Alligator skin’. It broke my heart hearing that, all I wanted to be was normal but knew I never could […] It was more upsetting because it was not that far off, my scarring does look like scales in parts because of the bumps.”
Although she struggled with self-esteem issues into adulthood, when Joy had her daughter Ciara (now 12), she knew it was time to start loving herself.
To Caters News, she explains, “I looked at my daughter and knew I never wanted her to be ashamed of me […] I wanted to set an example by not putting such a value on looks, and having such a low self-esteem, I knew if I hated how I looked and my scars, how could I expect her to accept me?”
After having this self-love realization in regards to her daughter, Joy practiced positive self-talk. She tells Caters News, “Over time, I learned to love my scars, how I look with them and have no regrets.
“If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change any part of my life, even getting burned, because it’s made me who I am today.”
Joy is now hoping to act as an inspiration to others, telling Caters News, “For years I wondered why I had to go through all of this, but now I believe it was my mission to help others and empower them by sharing my story.”
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GOD BLESS YOU!