Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Beauty queen explains why she will never hide her 25-inch scar

victoria graham beauty queen illness.JPG

An American beauty queen has opened up about living with a rare genetic disorder – and explained why she refuses to hide the 25-inch scar it has given her.

Victoria Graham, from Maryland, was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that weakens the joints, skin and blood vessels, over 10 years ago.

Since 2014 she has undergone no less than 10 operations, having her skull re-positioned on her spine and her spine fused, leaving her with a 25-inch scar down her back.

But rather than cover the scar, the 23-year-old embraces it as a part of who she is, and she wants to encourage others to do the same. For this reason, she proudly displayed her scar on stage at the Miss Frostburg 2017 beauty pageant.

“If I stand on stage in a bikini and people can see a 25-inch scar, maybe someone else will be a little bit braver, or have the courage to show their own scars,” she told The Washington Post.

Graham incorporated her experience of living with EDS into the pageant, where she used the catchphrase “but you don’t look sick” to make the point that not all illnesses have visible symptoms.


Read more: The top 50 most empowering feminist quotes of all time


Then, for the talent segment of the contest, she hit the stage wearing a hospital gown (below), and spoke openly about the challenge of overcoming obstacles in life.

“While other girls are singing beautiful songs and they’re in sparkly gowns and elaborate costumes, I’m in a hospital gown with an IV pole,” she said.

When asked why, her response was simply, “because that’s who I am”.

Graham won the pageant, and is now hoping to enter more across the country to continue spreading her message.

On her 22nd birthday last year, the beauty queen launched a support group for EDS sufferers called The Zebra Network, and she has spent the last year visiting children in local hospitals.


Read more: Fitness blogger shares the joy of being “unapologetically herself”


She turned 23 yesterday, and celebrated the first birthday in three years when she wasn’t in hospital by appearing on ABC News to talk about the importance of raising awareness of invisible illnesses, and the power that the pageant had on her confidence.

"When I'm on stage, I'm not the handicapped girl. I'm not the disabled girl. I'm not the sick girl," she said.

"It's almost like I'm free."

Images: Instagram

Related

muslim teenager.jpg

Muslim teen texts dad to tell him she won't wear hijab anymore

Body hair blogger.JPG

Fitness blogger shares empowering message after a year without shaving

Kathrine-Switzer-2.jpg

Woman who made history by running 1967 Boston marathon competes again

Comments

More

Kate Middleton has a budget beauty trick that's “quite necessary”

And your nan would approve

by Anna Pollitt
26 Jun 2017

Armpit tattoo designs are here to inspire you

Pit-ink is here for the long-haul

by Jasmine Andersson
23 Jun 2017

Hair inspiration from the world’s most famous music festivals

Exuberant trends through the ages

19 Jun 2017

Fresh, on-trend festival hair styles we love

Hot new looks to re-create this season

12 Jun 2017

Ten quick and easy hairstyles you can create in 60 seconds or less

Fast beauty on the go

by Sarah Biddlecombe
07 Jun 2017

Hot festival hair trends of summer 2017: a day by day guide

A leading stylist creates his go-to looks

01 Jun 2017

82-year-old grandmother gets first tattoo in memory of late husband

The childhood sweethearts were married for 53 years

by Sarah Biddlecombe
01 Jun 2017

This is the high street moisturiser we’re buying every 18 seconds

People all over the world are positively obsessed

by Kayleigh Dray
01 Jun 2017

People are getting this tattoo in honour of Manchester attack victims

And Ariana Grande has broken her silence on the bombing

by Moya Crockett
30 May 2017

Susan Sarandon’s ageing tips are as excellent as you’d expect

Good lighting is everything

by Moya Crockett
26 May 2017