By Kilee Brookbank

[Excerpt from Abilities Magazine article ‘Brave, Comfortable and Confident‘]

Photograph of a young, attractive woman with a big, happy smile. She is wearing a t-shirt. She has visible scars on her arms.

Getting close to someone new is always a difficult thing to do, whether it’s with a friend or a significant other. It is not unusual to feel scared and worried about opening up—particularly when you have a unique physical appearance, as I do.

I’m a burn survivor, with scars covering my arms, legs, and back. So when I started college last year, I knew I’d be meeting new people and facing questions. What I didn’t know was that telling my story would be easier than I expected—and that I would meet someone very special right away.

I met Alec the day we moved into Xavier University in Cincinnati for freshman orientation.

As we spent more time together, Alec was brave enough to ask me, in the nicest way possible, what had happened that caused my skin to look different. He already knew what skin grafts were. I told him about the gas explosion at my house, when I was 16 years old, and about my recovery over 38 days in Shriners Hospitals. I told him about my book, Beautiful Scars, and about how I’d spent the previous summer meeting with other burn survivors, trying to inspire them to get through their toughest times.

Thankfully, he took things very well and, a year later, he is comfortable asking questions and loves me for who I am and all the history I come with.

I want to encourage other women to just be brave, comfortable and confident!

My advice to other women:

• Having a positive body image is so hard, and I want to encourage other women to just be brave, comfortable and confident!

• Shake off rude people and surround yourself with people who are proud of who you are.

People can look at you and judge you all they want; at the end of the day, they don’t know what you have been through and have no right to judge you for your appearance.

Your body is part of your story, and your story is something you should be proud of. We’re all always growing and changing. Striving to become the best person you can be is what makes you truly beautiful.Book Cover

Kilee Brookbank is a University Student and the award-winning author of the book Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined. Through the Kilee Gives Back Foundation, Kilee has raised more than $150,000 for Shriners Hospitals for Children-Cincinnati. Learn more at


This excerpt is from Abilities Magazine (Issue 111, Winter 2017/18) article ‘Brave, Comfortable and Confident‘. Visit Website at:

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