1063. Sylvia Mac
Sylvia Mac, from London, founded ‘Love Disfigure’ to raise awareness and offer support for those living with burns and scarring.
Having hidden her own scars since childhood, Sylvia experienced depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and hopes that through ‘Love Disfigure’ she can inspire others to be proud of their bodies. The organisation supports over 3,000 people with skin conditions, burns, scars or disfigurement. Her latest campaign encourages the fashion, art, and film industries to represent people with scars. Sylvia, a former competitive swimmer, has also run fortnightly free swimming sessions to help boost the confidence of people with disfigurements or skin and health conditions, and will be undertaking a big outdoor swim challenge in 2019 to further raise awareness.
In a personal letter to Sylvia, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Through ‘Love Disfigure’ you have bravely responded to a difficult personal experience by creating a network where people with burns, scars, and skin conditions can support each other and know that they are not alone. Your tireless campaigning is sending an important message about the importance of self-confidence and diversity and I wish you every success as you continue your work.”
Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, said:
“I am delighted that Sylvia’s work has been recognised. Her selfless work provides a lifeline to people and shows a strength of character that makes her a great role model in Hackney and nationally.”
“I am absolutely thrilled and thankful to our wonderful Prime Minister, Theresa May for this amazing award. One of my missions in life is to let young people know that ‘you can achieve anything’. Body acceptance and confidence is something that we should all learn about, so we are able to move forward and progress in our life.
“As a child burn survivor who almost died twice, I went on to suffer daily pain, severe depression, anxiety, lacking confidence and self-body hating for almost 40 years not fitting into society. I was unable to accept my body and never felt beautiful, so my mental health was affected to the point of suicidal thoughts. Just two years ago, I had a turning point in my life and decided to change my mindset so I was able to accept my uniqueness finally feeling beautiful. In the past two years I have managed to connect worldwide and help people embrace their bodies through my confidence campaigns and receiving inspiring messages on a daily basis. I can only believe that my campaigns will go from strength to strength teaching those around us how to live in an equal, diverse and inclusive society. ‘You cannot change your path in life but you can change the way you walk it’.
“My vision is for society to become inclusive of everyone with visible/hidden differences whether in the workplace, in brands, fashion, TV and media, and for those people to feel accepted in our growing diverse communities.”