Q&A with Campaigner Sylvia Mac

Sylvia’s reflections on, hopes for and words to her body. And her message to you.

By Ellen Downes
Wed 08 Dec 2021

Sylvia joined me on an Instagram Live this week. We spoke about her relationship with her body – the journey it’s been on and her hopes for its future.

When she was 2 years old she fell backwards into a bowl of boiling water and almost died from 3rd and 4th degree burns to to her back, sides, stomach and left leg. She had multiple skin grafts to help resurface her back.

Sylvia almost died from her injuries and describes herself as a burns survivor. She has worked through depression, anxiety and years of hiding her scars before learning to love her body.

Now she is well-known as an advocate for body diversity and positivity and the powerhouse behind Love Disfigure.

She describes herself as a child burn survivor, body image campaigner, diverse model, inspirational speaker, cross-continent swimmer and body image blogger. Here is our quick-fire, mid-week Q&A packed full of Sylvia’s inspirational pearls of wisdom.

3 words to describe your body:

Fabulous, beautiful and inspirational.

What do you love about your body?

I’m still here, after something that could have killed me. I’m alive and I have to really respect my body for getting me here today. So I love every part of my body, because every part has a function and has done so much for me.

I spent too many years hating my body and I feel really sorry for the way I treated it before.

Now in my work I’ve done amazing things. I’ve walked naked down a runway naked! I’m showing people like me what’s possible.

What would you like to love about your body?

I am so zen with my body now. There’s nothing about it that I don’t appreciate or love.

What would you say to your 10 years younger self?

It was only a few years ago that I discovered the body positivity movement and completely changed my life.

Before then I didn’t know how to express myself. I found it difficult to communicate how I felt about myself and in my body. I only knew the term ‘burn victim’ and I didn’t know I could call myself a ‘burn survivor’ as I do now.

If I could tell anything to younger self, I’d say… You’re unique. You’re beautiful. Concentrate on yourself and stop worrying about what others think about you.

What are your hopes for your relationship with your body in 10 years’ time?

I feel like my love for my body can only get stronger. I don’t feel worried about going back to the dark place I was in before because now I know how strong I’m able to feel. I’m able to recognise if I’m having a hiccup and do what I need to do to get back on track.

I was at the hospital earlier today and the nurse recognised me. She said, “oh my goodness, you’re Love Disfigure, you’re famous!”. I love that I’m known for inspiring and helping people who feel like I felt.

Her words to you:

Life is difficult and you will often find yourself at crossroads. You will have to choose which path to take. But no matter how big a decision you have to make, rememember that it’s not the path you take, it’s how you walk it.

Every Body's Story Book

The bodies of 30 women aged 20-75 and the stories they hold

Every Wednesday I ask an inspiring creative 5 questions. I ask them to reflect upon their relationship with their body and they share their experiences and the lessons they’ve learnt with us.

You can watch the Q&A LIVE via the Every Body’s Story Instagram every Wednesday at 5:30PM.

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Next powerhouse guest: figure artist Wing Kei Hoang 💖