JESS Liu was four years old when her dress caught fire while she was watching TV.
She had to relearn to walk, and started school in Glasgow with a zimmer frame wearing pressure bandages.
Jess describes the two decades as a “rollercoaster”, and despite having a large group of supportive friends and family, her life has been pock-marked by comments people have made to her face about her scars, which cover 17% of her body.
She told us: “I was dating a man three years ago who, when I showed him my scars, told me I was ‘half cute, half Freddy Krueger’.
“I was so upset, and thought no one would find me attractive, or want to be with me.
“That triggered that complex in my brain. I thought if he has thought that, other people have, and it made me paranoid.
“Three years later, I found him on Tinder again. Curious, I matched with him again, and he didn’t even remember me.
“He’s not the first and he probably won’t be the last.”
This year, Jess, now 26, is marking the 21st anniversary of being burnt by calling for more and better representation of people with burns scarring in media, and less of people with scars being painted as “the villain”.
Jess said: “That man was 27, a full-grown adult. But I’ve had children comment on my scars before in the past.
“I think: ‘This isn’t coming from you, you’re a kid. It’s your background and the way you’ve been raised, you think it’s alright to comment on someone else’s appearance.’
“We take so much from social media, and we see so much, and the more you see something the more normal it becomes. We should have more diversity in what we are exposed to as a society.”
Jess continued: “I’ve heard a lot recently of people saying in the Black community they had never seen anyone like themselves on TV when they were growing up – and I’ve still never seen anyone like me. If I have, they’re the
“It’s not considered normal and I feel like it should be because people have scars for millions of reasons.
“I burnt 17% of my body, there are scars on a lot of it.
“We need better education and to learn to talk about how people are different – not just skin colour or weight, people have had things happen to them.
“It’s not something they should be ashamed of and not something they should need to feel ashamed of.”
Mark Stevenson, chair of the Scottish Burned Children’s Club, said: “With the rise of social media I thought we were becoming more savvy.
“Years down the line it still appals me to hear that guys on a dating site are making comments about people’s bodies.
“It’s horrific. Social media gives daft people bravado to think they can make and get away with these comments and not be held accountable for it.
“We want to provide support to children to give them confidence and self-esteem so that when they are faced with people staring they say, ‘Hi. I am a survivor, but I’m ok’.
“I would love to have a conversation with these men to ask them why they think it is proper to make these comments.
“We have to have these conversations. It’s not okay.”
A spokeswoman from The Katie Piper Foundation said: “Every day, survivors of burns face judgement, prejudice and discrimination because of the way they look.
“They rarely see anyone who looks like them in the media which adds to feelings of isolation.
“It is only by increasing the media representation of people with scars and burns can we normalise this and create a society that values and respects difference.”
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