There’s a quote which runs “when bad things happen in life, let them make you better not bitter”.
That’s a difficult thing to do. Especially when you feel the bad things that have happened to you are crippling and hold you back, as much as you want to move on.
Take for example, suffering 40% body and facial burns when only eight years old, being shunned and forced into reclusion both because of health implications and the treatment of burns victims in Bangladesh, being uprooted and moved to a foreign country where you are bullied physically and emotionally at school because of your disfigurement, and finally ending up in an abusive and manipulative relationship.
You may be forgiven for becoming bitter not better.
Not Labonya. From the age of 19, she decided to enter the hugely competitive and demanding world of modelling.
Her manifesto, it seems, to the world is as follows: “For me, it is about having my confidence back, not earning Kate Moss millions. I’m determined to show the world that scars can be beautiful. The girl who hid in her bedroom for all those years is gone. My message is that I’m a survivor, not a victim. Having scars is no different than having tattoos.”
UK high street shop Next decided to show their belief in Labonya and cast her in their photo shoots for their Burnley store. In an age where there is constant debate over the size, weight and skin colour of commercial and runway models, a petite 21-year-old with beautiful, wise eyes is challenging that discussion even further.
“I’m so proud to be helping others get over their insecurities about their bodies,” she says. One young woman’s bravery and personal dream is the encouragement of many.