Young Adult Burn Survivor Challenges Her Boundaries to Empower Female Burn Survivors

Kiki Vo is a young adult who was burn injured as a child in a fire that that claimed the life of her mother and injured her 2 sisters.  She is also a Phoenix Society member who participated as a Young Adult mentor in our 2014 UBelong Young Adults program at Phoenix World Burn Congress, and contributed to a Burn Support Magazine article titled "Young Adults: Relating and Relationships." 

In the BSM article she shares, “Growing up, I thought I was not worthy of love and affection.  I thought no one could ever look beyond my scars and love me for who I truly am.  My mentality shifted greatly when I started attending burn camps and being a part of the burn community.  I started to focus my energy on building myself stronger mentally and emotionally.  I also began to shift my attention to education as a tool to empower myself.”

As a student at UC Berkley, she conducted an independent research study titled “Exploring Young Adult Female Burn Survivors and Sexual Intimacy.” ( note that due to the subject matter in this research study, some information found at this link may be explicit in nature.)

Her research work inspired photographer, Krysada Binly Panusith Phounsiri, to approach Kiki for a collaborative photo shoot, and the ensuing project  was recently featured in the SnapPilots blog, “Beauty Beyond Scars” (9/27/15).  The photos are honest, intimate, and openly beautiful. In the SnapPilots blog Kiki wrote that the photo shoot served as another form of expression for her research, and went  on to explain that her hopes were to challenge her own boundaries and empower other female burn survivors. The photos reveal her own empowerment –as she has transformed from a young teen that covered her scars with long sleeves and hid her face with her hair, to a young woman exuding serene dignity and self-confidence with her own body through the lens of the camera.

As a result of this inspiring work, Kiki and the “Beauty Beyond Scars” project was also featured on website, “Burn Survivor Challenges Her Insecurities With Intimate Photo Shoot,” where she shares her story and her journey to rise above the challenges of her burn injuries.  Phoenix Society was approached by The Mighty with permission to share their feature story.

We invite you to read Kiki’s story from The Mighty:

“When asked what her advice is for other burn survivors, Vo told The Mighty, “Do not ever have a mindset that you are a victim. You cannot grow and heal from the pain or the trauma if you do not let it help you heal… It will take some time, and it’s completely OK. Just realize that the longer we hold on to what we can’t change, the longer we stop ourselves from being happy.”” (October 2, 2015)

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