This brave 22-year-old blonde beauty has racked up almost 300,000 Instagram followers for showing the world her burn scars and becoming an inspiration to others after telling of her ordeal.
Julie Bourges suffered third-degree burns on 40 percent of her body when her carnival costume – a sheep, with cotton covering her whole body – caught fire in Nice, in the Alpes-Maritimes department of south-eastern France, in 2013, according to local media.
She then spent three months in a coma while having skin grafts to treat her burns and then reportedly hid her body because, according to local media, “the gaze of others was painful.”
One day she was in a restaurant and a man kept staring at her. She confronted him for singling her out because she was different. But the man said: “My niece is in the hospital because she was burned, and I was just wondering if she would be as beautiful as you with your scars.”
This was a turning point for Julie.
She had initially taken to social media to ask people for advice. But very soon, she says, “many people sent me their testimonials, burned people, people fighting cancer, disabled people, depressed people… I realised that my story and the message of resilience that comes with it could help, so I continued.”
Now an activist fighting for people to be proud of their bodies, she has reportedly become a role model for her followers, a “daily source of inspiration”, and she even has partnerships with big brands such as Reebok, Dove and Yves Rocher.
She also launched her own YouTube channel in February and now has 129,000 subscribers. Her latest video, posted on 21st April, already has nearly 30,000 views. It is about how she got her hair back after being bald.
She said: “We all have our differences, our little imperfections. It gives one courage. People might perhaps identify more with me than with advertising.
“It would be a lie to say that it’s easy. It’s a permanent fight.”
Picture Credit: CEN / CEN/Douze Fevrier / CEN/@douzefevrier