Michelle Elman is a 23-year-old body-confidence coach from London — but she hasn’t always been in love with her own appearance. After all, it wasn’t easy for her to accept the scars from her 15 surgeries, procedures to treat a brain tumor, punctured intestine, obstructed bowel, brain cyst, and a condition called hydrocephalus, where fluid fills the brain.
However, Michelle’s self-esteem really began to plummet at age 11, when she became keenly aware of her size: Michelle was hospitalized for three months during which she couldn’t eat regular food. In the six months of recovery that followed, she couldn’t exercise but went back to eating real foods, a transition that led to weight gain. It didn’t help that her last bout of surgeries had left her with a scar at the bottom of her stomach. “[It] made it look like I had a fat roll,” she says.