I’m just getting on with my life. We should all be making the most out of whatever circumstances we have all been dealt in life. You only have one life to live after all. You can sit around and feel sorry for yourself or you can get on with it. I just choose to get on with it. I honestly feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
Turia Pitt is an inspiration to people everywhere. Her story is something we could only ever conjure up in a one of our worst nightmares. But Turia has worked with her circumstances and now believes she is the luckiest girl in the world. In 2011 Turia was competing in the 100km Kimberley Ultramarathon when she was cornered by a massive fire that saw Turia and fellow runner Kate Sanderson receive burns to 60% of their bodies.
Turia has always been a go-getter. One of those admirable women who sets her mind to something and goes for it. Someone who without going through such turmoil has such a will to live, now with this story to tell she is not just a survivor, she is unstoppable.
Turia has just released her book Everything to Live For, is currently the cover girl for one of Australia’s highest circulating women’s magazines Australian Women’s Weekly, has just been named Premier’s Woman of the year 2014 and is now an inspirational speaker. For this week’s Inspirational Beauty it was so great to be able to speak with someone who challenges our culture’s stereotypical view of what is beautiful. We hope you enjoy these wise words from someone we believe is one of the most beautiful people we have had the chance to feature.
How did your burns affect your self-esteem?
At the start, significantly. Before my accident I used to walk around with confidence and a lot of self-belief. All of that was ripped away from me when I was trapped in a grass fire during the 2011 Kimberly Ultra Marathon – receiving burns to 65% of my total body surface area. It’s taken years (this September will mark the third anniversary) but I’m finally at the point where I was before the fire.
How has your life changed since 2011?
Dramatically. Before the fire my partner and I lived up north and I was an engineer working on the mines. Now we live on the South Coast and I am a motivational speaker. I’ve lost independence, most of my fingers and my appearance is completely altered. Some things have stayed constant though: my wonderful partner, my beautiful family and my incredible mates.
Does it hurt to push yourself through your exercise?
No. It doesn’t hurt anymore than it used to.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is: standing up straight, having confidence, looking people in the eye and having the ability to look in the mirror and think, “Yep, I look damn fine today”.
What message would you give to young people struggling with their facial difference?
If you don’t have a problem with it, they won’t.
Do you hope that your AWW cover changes the way the media showcases appearance diversity?
Honestly, I haven’t really thought about it. It’s an absolute honour to be asked to be the cover girl for Australia’s highest circulating magazine. For that, I’m incredibly grateful.
Tell me about your work with Interplast.
This charity provides free reconstructive surgery to people in developing countries. So they could perform surgery on people with cleft palate, women who are victims of an acid attack or even other burn survivors. My plastic surgeon also volunteers for Interplast on an annual basis, so you can understand why I feel so close to the cause!
I’ve just returned from trekking the Great Wall of China with a group of 20 extraordinary women. Our group raised close to $200,000 which is a phenomenal effort for this inaugural event. Next year we will be taking on the Inca Trek and we hope to raise even more for this worthy organisation.
How can people turn an adverse situation around?
While I was in hospital I couldn’t do anything for myself. I couldn’t feed myself, I couldn’t brush my hair and I couldn’t even take myself to the bathroom. Depression sunk in because I was an ultra-athlete and now I couldn’t even walk a single step. I realised that to get through this I would have to readjust my goals – I would have to be content with achieving the little things. Taking a single step. Climbing a stair. Raising my arms.
“When you work on the little things big things happen”
― Rodger Halston