A teenage burns survivor from Southampton has started a poster campaign to encourage follow burns survivors to accept their scars.

As part of Burns Awareness Day (October 14), the project is entitled: ‘Don’t let your scars define you. Define your scars’ and aims to improve the mental health of burns survivors.

Daily Echo:

19-year-old student, Crystal Turner Brightman was 15 and helping a friend with a GCSE photography project when the cotton dress she was modelling caught fire from a candle.

She was taken to Southampton General Hospital’s A&E department before getting transferred to the specialist burns unit at Salisbury District Hospital.

Doctors decided against performing a skin graft and Crystal was sent home to recover with instructions on how to change her dressing.

She said as her scars healed her confidence has “wavered” and the experience initally left her with a poor body image.

“I had been so focused on my physical recovery, I had forgotten to look after my mental wellbeing,” she said.

Daily Echo:

Crystal was eventually diagnosed with PTSD, though she spent a year on a waiting list for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

She said: “Emotionally I was very black and white.

“I was either very happy or extremely depressed and very unhappy with my body.

“Despite being in a bad place I wanted this to end and to take back control of my feelings.”

Daily Echo:

The photography project involved Crystal, with the help of her best friend Amber, applying gold glitter with hair gel to her scars.

Crystal said she hopes the project inspires people who have gone through a burn’s injury or disfigurement to be more comfortable in their bodies.

She said: “At the the time when the accident occurred, I felt so broken, deformed and lost, that now I want to fight to help others not feel that way.

“It would mean the world to me if this poster campaign could help others define their own scars or disfigurements, helping them to feel beautiful again.”