I met Annie through a friend on Twitter. I had tweeted about how I wanted to feature young women who had challenging physical appearances, for my self-esteem development project – young women who despite their stereotypical physical appearances, were still living their lives as normal, happy people and in the process, were inspiring others to live too and Aderinsola Ayoade had sent me a message almost immediately, telling me about Annie.
Annie had been involved in a car accident in 2014; the result of which was a permanent scar on her right arm. After Derin told me about her scar and the amazing things that she does in spite of it, I reached out to her and was pleasantly met with a beautiful lady who was more than willing to share her story with us. In fact, the entire project resonated well with Annie, because she had also been going all out, using her social media platforms to teach people to embrace their scars and live their lives regardless.
At the time she sent this, Annie had been preparing for her wedding and her final exams at the University of Uyo. Still, she took out time to share this story and I am grateful.
In reading this, I hope you pick a thing or two, especially on not limiting yourself or defining your worth based on how you look like. Enjoy.
On the 24th of August 2014, at about 3:45 pm, I was involved in a car accident. Everything happened like a dream – one minute, we were driving, on our way back from a Church youth camp, and the next minute, our vehicle was flipping. We somersaulted three times before crashing on the tarred road.
After the incident happened, we all rushed out to safety and it wasn’t until much later it dawned on me that I was among those who had sustained serious injuries. My entire right arm was bleeding. I got to the hospital and was admitted for months, getting treatment. After several months, I was healed, but the accident left a permanent scar on my arm.
Maybe the accident would not have affected my self-esteem so much if certain things had not happened.
First, as a model, I realized that I was having difficulties getting signed to modeling and ushering agencies. Nobody wanted a girl with a large scar. Also, I began to lose some of my friends. Just a few ones stayed with me despite all the odds. At school, I could not write notes in class or during exams and because I didn’t want to suspend my studies, I had to develop the skill of using my left hand.
It was then I lost my self-esteem. I just couldn’t return to going about, living my life like it were normal. I started wearing long sleeves to hide my scars and the times I wore sleeveless clothes, I would cover up my arms with mufflers. It wasn’t funny at all. Imagine the weather being so hot and you are wearing long sleeves. You know how people would be looking at you, yeah? Like ‘is this girl really okay?’
Anyway, in 2014, I got enrolled in the Otis Model Academy but couldn’t complete it because of the accident. However, in 2015, I got free entry into the academy again and it was there my boss (Mrs. Otobong Usanga, at the time) and her husband helped me see a different perspective to my scar. They had both called me one night to ask me some questions, and while answering some, I started crying. Then, they encouraged and introduced me to Winnie Harlow. Winnie Harlow is a Canadian fashion model and public spokesperson with a skin condition called Vitiligo. Vitiligo looks like your skin is peeling at different parts of your body and it just discolors you. Still, Winnie is all she is. I learned about her, was greatly inspired and began to see my scar differently.
I got back into modeling, wearing my scar as a badge. In fact, I’m widely known as the scar model now. I’ve also been using this same scar to inspire and teach others to embrace their flaws and keep living their lives.
My life did not end in that accident and it sure did not end because I got a scar. If anything, the rejections I faced have pushed me to keep pressing towards my dreams. I currently run my own brand, Annierokies – which is subdivided into AnnieRokies Fabrics and AnnieRokies Artistry. We do makeup of different kinds, ranging from bridal, casual and thanksgiving to introductions, birthdays and child dedication. We tie geles, sell fabrics, ankara, cashmere, and footwear. By God’s Grace, we are still working on opening more sub-brands but so far, with determination, prayer and hard work, I’m really proud of where we are today. All of these came to be because I worked on my dreams and didn’t let my scars limit me.
I see myself now as nothing short of a blessing to this generation. Through my work and teachings, I believe I’ve been a blessing to people who’ve been willing to learn. I see myself as a role model to so many youths out there – those with scars and those without and I see myself as a survivor. Lastly, I’ve learned to trust God with everything and in spite of my scar, I see Him fulfilling his beautiful promises in my life.
On this note, to every young person out there who feels limited by their looks, here is what I would tell you: ‘You are beautiful. You are smart. You were wonderfully created by God, so be proud of who you are. You actually have the power to determine what limits you and what doesn’t. So choose to let nothing limit you. If you want to be anything, focus on achieving those dreams. Believe in yourself, be authentic and one day, you’ll make yourself really proud.
To those who’ve got scars, please stop hiding it. In fact, be proud of it. It stands you out in a crowd and only shows how strong you are.
Lastly to anyone out there who one way or the other discriminates people with scars, stop it. Instead of stigmatizing, try encouraging them to be better. If you are in a position to help them achieve their dreams, help them, because the world is a very small place and any of them can be of help to you, as well, tomorrow.
I loooved Annie’s story! I loved it because it showed me that our looks are not indestructible. Yes, some of us might have been born a certain way but there are also others who just had things happen to them, along the way, that altered their looks. Annie is one of such people and her story has taught me that something as fluid as our physical appearance, which may look this way today and change tomorrow, is not enough to define our worth by.
Annie is doing great, by the way. Her business is thriving. She’s bagged her degree from the University of Uyo as an Animal Scientist and at the time of publishing this, she’s married to the love of her life. Imagine if she had allowed her looks limit her?
Over to you now, did you take anything out of Annie’s story? If you did, please share with us in the comments. Also, if this story reminds you of your self-esteem experiences and you’d like to share yours too, please reach out to me. By the way, you can also find other ways to join or support our ongoing campaign here.
Till later, with love.