At 22 years old, Phyllida Swift went on a volunteering trip to Ghana that changed the course of her life forever. Following a car accident during her time in Africa, Phyllida was stunned to wake up with half of her face cut open.
Here’s how Phyllida dealt with the challenges following the accident, and how she’s working to change the perception of facial disfigurement around the world.
“I hated that people would pity me”
In agony, with broken bones and injuries all over her body, she was taken to hospital to be treated. It was here where she came to the realisation she’d be scarred on her face for life, there was no hiding it.
The experience was so intense that Phyllida says “it feels like it never happened, it’s like an out of body experience.” She recalls hating feeling pitied by people who assumed that she’d never be able to feel confident or beautiful. This only fuelled her to prove them all wrong, which she states as a “great driving force in life”.
“Scars have given me a purpose”
After initially struggling to come to terms with her scar and the social stigma that came with it, Phyllida began talking about her experiences with the charity Changing Faces UK, set up by burn survivor James Partridge. James went on to establish Face Equality International, where Phyllida is now CEO, continuing to de-stigmatise facial disfigurement and open up the conversation globally.
“It’s not about losing weight; it’s about constantly learning new movements”
Fitness has been an invaluable tool for Phyllida on her journey to self-love and throughout her career. Working her body to the max in every functional fitness session empowers Phyllida every time, and seeing what her body is capable of gives her that boost of self-esteem.
Take Home Message
We can all take inspiration and learn important lessons from Phyllida, that’s why we’re celebrating all of her achievements and continued efforts to de-stigmatise facial disfigurements.