Models are expected to be ‘perfect’ in every sense of the word but Neli Zuma is defying that belief to live her dreams. At 23, Neli had a fatal accident that changed her life and the way she reasons.
She had received a good news of a job offer in California, so she decided to celebrate with her friends at work. They celebrated until 11pm and decided to take the party home. On their way, she realized that her friend who was the driver was sleeping on the wheel. By the time she tapped him to wake up, it was too late.
They crashed into a wall and her friend died immediately while she was left with serious internal bleeding. After three weeks in the ICU, Neli woke up to see her stomach covered in plastic. Her doctors took skin from her thighs to cover her stomach and her bellybutton was shifted to another side of her stomach.
Before the accident, Neli had started a career in modelling and so, the scars she got from the accident affected the way she saw herself. When she started going out again, people were curious about why her stomach looked the way it is and that affected her self-esteem more.
Tired of the self-pity, Neli decided to own her scars, take it and live it.
To show the world that she isn’t ashamed of her scars anymore, she called a friend who is a photographer to take her pictures and she was shocked by the beautiful responses it got from people. So, she decided to continue to inspire people with her pictures. She also started a blog to help people like herself and people with emotional struggles.
“It takes a lot to accept yourself. Do something that makes you happy. You need to love yourself first and be gentle for yourself first before the outside world would do the same thing to you”, she said, urging people like her to accept who they are and how they look.
Scars are not a problem to Neli. When she looks at her scars because they give her a reason to be happy of having a second chance at life.
“I used to cry and cry for days and now I am rocking my scars and I rock them with a smile”.
Watch her speak here
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