Sick of always hiding her scars, 24-year-old Bianca decided to reveal them on First Dates - and the reaction she received couldn’t have been more surprising.
Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to talk about my keloid scars without crying.
I’m 24 years old and I have 22 scars on my body, and in the past people have told me I should kill myself because they’re so ugly. When I walk down the street I usually pull my hair forwards to cover up the scars that are on my face, and I used to wear turtlenecks and scarves to cover my chest, even in the summer.
But in the past two years I’ve taken baby steps to get my confidence back, and this week I even revealed my scars to a nationwide audience, by talking about them on First Dates.
I was really nervous about the reaction to the show, especially as I got quite upset when we were filming it. But now that the show has aired I feel free; I feel like my story’s out there, and I don’t have to hide anymore.
I didn’t want to hide, anyway, as I’ve got to a point in my life where I feel like I have to be who I am and be comfortable in the skin that I’m in. Nothing is going to change and there’s no point in being sad for the rest of my life – I might as well enjoy it to the fullest while I can.
On the show, I went on a date with a man called Teza, and I felt like I had to tell him about my scars; I always tell people about them, even when I’m just talking to someone online or on social media. He was really nice about them. I didn’t think he was going to react the way he did so I felt really shocked, and that’s why I got so upset – it was an emotional situation to be in.
Teza and I are still in contact, although we talk more as friends now. I’ve been single since I was 18 and haven’t met anybody in person since, although I talk to people on social media, and they always ask me about my scars.
While the show was airing, my phone was blowing up with so many lovely comments from people about how I’d come across really well and made them proud because I had touched them with my story.
I haven’t seen any bad comments yet, although I know there are always trolls around – when I post pictures of my scars on Instagram, I get messages from people saying that I’m just doing it for attention. But for me it’s about raising awareness, and a lot of people on the platform have come forward to tell me they have keloids as well, so I feel like I’m helping others.
Since filming First Dates I’ve come out of my shell a lot more, and I’ve started pushing myself out of my boundaries. Now, I’ll go out wearing a top or a dress that shows my keloids, and while people might still say, “eurgh, what’s that?” I’ve learned to control what I say back. If someone genuinely wants to know what the scars are, then I’m happy to educate them, but if people are going to be rude then I’m not going to answer.
In the past, it was horrible sweating in the summer because I felt like I had to cover up with a turtleneck, even when it was hot. So even before filming the show, I knew that I couldn’t keep putting myself down and not doing what I wanted to do, just because I’ve got scars. I thought to myself, I can’t live like this.
My first step was to publish a post on Instagram about my story, and I got nice feedback from people, which boosted my confidence. Then I did a photoshoot with Sophie Mayanne in London for a photo-series called Behind The Scars and, because she has so many followers, I felt like I wanted to tell my story even more. Now I’ll post photos that show what my skin looks like naturally, rather than always hiding my scars away.
I want to encourage people to love the skin that they’re in, and to ignore people’s comments. I first got my scars when I was 13 and I was put on medication for severe acne, and when the scars started to grow, a doctor diagnosed them as keloids. They weren’t really obvious when I was at school but they developed more after I left, and that’s when the negative comments started.
It made me really upset, as the scars weren’t something I could control, and they definitely weren’t something that I wanted on my body. Plus, I wasn’t born with them, so going from not having them to having them was a big change that made it even harder for me.
But I’m a bit older now, and I have all the friends I need in my life. What do I want people to take away from my story? I want them to know that they are beautiful for who they are, and that their looks don’t define them. After all, beauty is only skin deep – our personalities are much more important.
If you want to learn more about keloid scars, please visit the NHS information page here
First Dates is on Mondays on Channel 4 at 10pm
Images: First Dates, Sophie Mayanne