By Liana Jacob
THIS MUSICIAN was driven to consider suicide by bullies over her skin condition until she embraced the facial scars she now defiantly insists are beautiful and would never consider removing.
Support specialist and musician, Sarah Fremgen (29), from Tennessee, USA, was only 14-years-old when she started to notice spot-shaped scars on her face, that she passed off as pimples that wouldn’t go away.
Over years, the scars began to harden, so she was taken to a dermatologist, who diagnosed her with keloid disorder, the formation of a type of scar composed of collagen.
Since then, Sarah was bullied at school for her appearance and this made her feel embarrassed and insecure. She began to suffer from depression and body dysmorphia. Her mental health got worse and she even considered suicide.
However, over time, her realisation that people appreciate authenticity over beauty, motivated her to start embracing her scars with pride and she has since accepted her look.
“I definitely used to hide. I’d avoid going places. I tried to pull my hair over my face and wore lots of makeup,” Sarah said.
“The only thing I felt I had control over was my size, so I would try to lose weight to compensate. I spent a lot of time isolating and in deep depression. I contemplated suicide many times.
“I was about fourteen when I started to notice the marks on my face. My keloid scars actually came about from a bad round of cystic acne. Puberty was not kind to me.
“I actually thought my scars were pimples that just wouldn’t go away, but when they became hard and couldn’t be treated, my mom took me to a dermatologist. I was officially diagnosed with the condition when I was about sixteen.
“As a teenage girl the last thing you want is something wrong with your face, so of course I was embarrassed and confused. In our society, there is a certain expectation of what normal looks like, and I didn’t meet that.
“But the emotional trauma didn’t really settle in until I started getting bullied at school. I grew up in a small town as a teenager, so I stood out, and kids of course can be mean.
“The stares, and rude comments got so bad I suffered with depression, body dysmorphia and eating disorders.”
The constant bullying Sarah endured made the process of embracing her skin very hard for her. However, in 2014 she married the love of her life, and credits him along with her friends and family for her positive outlook on life.
“The hardest part was probably people saying hurtful or ignorant things about my appearance; dealing with bullies and not meeting the popular beauty standards,” she said.
“I wanted so badly just like every girl to be considered beautiful and I was so sure at the time that I would never be that because even I couldn’t think outside the box back then.
“It took time, but I honestly attribute it to my faith and love and support from family. I came to a place where I could either live in shame and fear, or see what good could from my life through this.
“I could be a source of low self-esteem and embarrassment, or I could be a source of inspiration and hope. I chose inspiration and hope.
“I can honestly say, I am so at rest with who I am. Being able to embrace your own beauty allows you to truly see and embrace others, so that brings me joy.
“I do have bad days where I wish I was normal sometimes, but those hard moments only remind me that I have the opportunity to relate to others.
“The idea that what humans truly desire is authenticity, more than just beauty really changed my outlook.”
She has been asked many times if she would ever consider getting her scars removed, to which she says no.
“I don’t have a deep desire for an option out. Though there are some treatment options out there, removing keloid scars is very risky because there is always a chance they could get worse,” she said.
“As comfortable as I am in my skin, I still want to take care of it. However, for some, this condition can be physically debilitating. Many are looking for a cure because they need one and that is something of course I support.
“If there is a cure that is safe and effective, then I fully support it – but would I get it myself? Right now, probably not. I like being different and three dimensional.
“In real life, real things happen; hurt happens, wounds happen, scars happen, and we shouldn’t have to apologise for it, but rather embrace the beauty of an authentic story.
“I wanted to inspire others to do the same thing. Beauty shouldn’t have a limit, a box, or an expiration date.
“Embrace your scars, embrace the difference. I did, and it has been difficult at times but mostly so rewarding for myself and others. Not everyone will understand, but the ones that do are the ones that matter.
“The greatest beauty you will leave behind is not what people saw when they looked at you, but how you made them feel.”