SCARRED

A model’s face is her for­tune. So when Aus­tralian beauty ROBYN LAW­LEY suf­fered a hor­rific fall dur­ing a seizure that left her ap­pear­ance per­ma­nently changed, it re­quired a re­think of her fu­ture

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents -

Model Robyn Law­ley learns to love her changed face.

“See­ing your mum fall down the stairs would be an ex­treme thing to wit­ness, and we al­ways re­it­er­ate to Ri­p­ley that I’m OK now, and that she helped me. I don’t want that to be her first mem­ory, although I’m kind of wor­ried it might be.”

TWO MONTHS AGO, I was at my new home in up­state Newyork. I had been deal­ing with mov­ing for the past few months, from LA back to New York, shift­ing fur­ni­ture and un­pack­ing, and all the ex­haust­ing fun that comes with re­lo­cat­ing. I was over­tired but happy. My per­sonal things were scat­tered be­tween the mov­ing truck, the rental house and our new house, and in the chaos I hadn’t re­alised that I had for­got­ten to take my med­i­ca­tion for a few days. I was with my part­ner, Ever­est, and my three-year-old daugh­ter, Ri­p­ley. Ever­est and I had sched­uled our first date in what seemed like years: we were go­ing to a mu­sic fes­ti­val.we’d hired a babysit­ter; it was go­ing to be per­fect.

I re­mem­ber the start of the stair­case, and then wak­ing up to my daugh­ter next to me on the floor. I’d had a seizure and fallen from more than seven feet onto hard tile, land­ing on my face.

I don’t re­mem­ber fall­ing. I do re­mem­ber my part­ner telling me ev­ery­thing would be OK. I re­mem­ber the stretcher and the am­bu­lance in flashes (in­clud­ing the paramedics cut­ting my favourite Johnny Cash T-shirt off and me, hi­lar­i­ously, beg­ging them not to when I was bleed­ing from my head and chin, and miss­ing a tooth.) I don’t re­mem­ber the ini­tial pain. I think your body puts you into sur­vival mode and shields your mem­ory from pain like that. My part­ner and daugh­ter had to en­dure more hav­ing to wit­ness it; it must have been aw­ful. I’m so grate­ful Ever­est was there. That would have been one hell of a sit­u­a­tion to wake up alone to.

I’d been di­ag­nosed with lu­pus and APS [an­tiphos­pho­lipid an­ti­body syn­drome] after Ri­p­ley was born, and this was only my sec­ond seizure. When I woke up in the hospi­tal, it was such a shock, re­al­is­ing the pain was so real, de­spite the mor­phine. My part­ner and daugh­ter had fol­lowed the paramedics, and when I was get­ting the stitches, Ever­est took a photo and showed it to me. I still have that photo. I look so out of it and con­fused; I had no idea what was go­ing on.we shared that photo with my fam­ily in Aus­tralia, be­cause it was then that I re­alised the ex­tent of my in­juries.the days after the ac­ci­dent in the hospi­tal were the worst — it was a very down time. My lip was so big I could barely talk, and I had so much mouth pain, hav­ing lost my tooth, I couldn’t eat or sleep. But the nurses were re­ally nice, and I was so ap­pre­cia­tive. My sis­ters were re­ally help­ful after they’d seen the photo.they told me, “You’re so lucky.”and it’s true: I could have been driv­ing; I could have had my daugh­ter in my arms. I didn’t break any­thing. I could have ended up in a wheel­chair. I’ll take a few scars over that.

I stayed quiet for a while, be­cause, to be com­pletely hon­est, my fa­ther is go­ing through pretty hard­core can­cer treat­ment. He was a fire­man and one of the health­i­est men I’ve known — he’s a fighter. So I know what real pain is. I know how it could have gone.that gave me the strength to re­alise that my ac­ci­dent was some­thing I had to get through fast.you can find strength in the bad.

Since my daugh­ter saw the ac­ci­dent, she’s been very vo­cal about it.we talk about it; see­ing your mum fall down the stairs would be an ex­treme thing to wit­ness, and we al­ways re­it­er­ate that I’m OK now, and that she helped me. I don’t want that to be her first mem­ory, although I’m kind of wor­ried it might be.

Of course, any­one would be af­fected if they had their face smashed up, but I try to do more than mod­el­ling. I have a lot of hob­bies; I’ve been film­ing and mak­ing mu­sic, and I try to just stay pos­i­tive. I didn’t know what the dam­age would be long-term — I didn’t know if the fashion world would be ready for me with scars, so while I was re­cov­er­ing I kept telling my­self, You’ll keep

do­ing mu­sic, film­ing and en­joy­ing what you’re do­ing. I also fol­low girls on so­cial me­dia — there’s Elly May­day, who writes about hav­ing ovar­ian can­cer — and see­ing some­one like her has re­ally helped. On so­cial me­dia, we’re con­stantly in­un­dated with perfection, and this is the flip side.this is how other peo­ple are liv­ing as well.

When I posted a photo of my in­juries and scars on In­sta­gram — I’ve got a light­ning-bolt scar on my fore­head and scars on my lip and chin — I wasn’t sure how it would be re­ceived. I used to get cy­ber­bul­lied, but now I take the bad with the good. In the past, I’ve had to delete In­sta­gram; peo­ple can be very mean. But it was the con­stant perfection that was ac­tu­ally hurt­ing me most.

I am re­ally as­tounded by and grate­ful for all the mes­sages I have re­ceived, and, right now, I’m feel­ing very loved. It helps to hear from some­one who is go­ing through what you are. And there are also so many peo­ple go­ing through some­thing hard­core and feel­ing ashamed about it. I don’t want peo­ple to feel that way. I thought I didn’t like my scars, but now I dig them. I think a chick with a scar is badass. I know the ex­tent of how bad it was — see­ing the blood on the walls when I got home — and I re­alise how good a job the sur­geons did. Maybe be­ing a model who’s not ashamed of her size helped me feel that I don’t need to be per­fect; age also helps you to re­lax more when you see the big­ger, more im­por­tant, more press­ing is­sues in life.

Scars are cool. They tell a story. Hu­man bod­ies are full of stretch marks from grow­ing or hav­ing ba­bies or gain­ing and los­ing weight. I’ve al­ways em­braced those marks, so I thought, What the hell, this is what makes me dif­fer­ent, and yet this is what con­nects me to the world. For two months, I fo­cused on spend­ing time with my daugh­ter, and I went to my lit­tle stu­dio down­stairs and made elec­tronic mu­sic. Mu­sic was one of the big­gest things that helped me.iwouldl is ten to a lot of re­ally heart­felt, emo­tional songs, and I’d cry at the drop of a hat. I had to give my­self that time to let my­self heal. But now I feel like me again — strong.

Ev­ery­one wants to give sug­ges­tions for how to heal and get bet­ter, but lu­pus is some­thing I can’t con­trol. I ap­pre­ci­ate peo­ple’s sug­ges­tions, and en­rich­ing my diet with more anti-in­flam­ma­tory food is some­thing I’m try­ing to do, but you don’t want to feel at fault.through my daugh­ter, I’m re­minded how im­por­tant it is to not be crit­i­cal of my­self. Some­times she will say,‘mama, I’ve got big legs.’and I’ll say,‘you’ve got per­fect legs.you’ve got tall, strong, healthy legs.’ I re­it­er­ate the facts: we’re both tall, strong, healthy.

My scar is one of my iden­ti­fy­ing fea­tures now. I could laser it away, but I don’t want to.and I think of Joaquin Phoenix and how great his scar is, how it makes his face so in­ter­est­ing. I want girls to stop wast­ing their time seek­ing perfection.they could be study­ing or get­ting bet­ter at their ca­reer or pur­su­ing their hob­bies. Don’t let that shit hold you back. I know that sounds a bit rich com­ing from a model, but that idea of perfection can eat away at you.

My other mes­sage is: if you do feel sick and you feel as if your doc­tor isn’t do­ing enough, change your doc­tor. So many women have symp­toms that are ig­nored by the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion, per­haps be­cause of their high pain thresh­old, or be­cause it’s put down to ‘fe­male pain’. Per­se­vere. If you don’t feel right, it’s not right. Early treat­ment is so im­por­tant.

For in­for­ma­tion on lu­pus and APS, visit healthdi­rect.gov.au.

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