By Hannah Stevens @hannahshewans
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Videographer / director: Charles Elmore
Producer: Nathalie Bonney, Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal
Alyssa McDonald, 27, from Stillwater, Oklahoma, was severely burned at two years old when she accidentally pulled a pot of boiling butter off the stove and onto herself.
She endured surgeries every other year until she was 17 and struggled to face her scars.
But everything changed in high school when she woke up one day and decided enough was enough - she was going to learn to love her scars and ‘wear them like diamonds.'
Alyssa told Barcroft TV: “My burns and my scars don’t limit me from doing anything. They don’t stop me. I am unstoppable.
“If I could go back and change my scars, I would not. If someone gave me a magical pill that would change my scars, I would not.
“If a genie gave me three wishes, none of those three wishes would have anything to do with my scars.
“I would ask for a bigger bank account, a bigger ass and that’s about it, there’d be nothing with my scars because my scars have put me in positions where I could help other people.”
Although McDonald’s scars cover over 60 percent of her body, including her face, shoulders, thigh and back, she says she 'wears her flaws like diamonds.'
Now raising her one-year-old daughter Alijah, Alyssa says it’s like watching a mini version of herself grow up without scars.
She said: “She’s definitely my little twin. What’s interesting is, I will get to see what I would have looked like if I wasn’t burned by watching her grow up.
“I know that my child will be a lot more sensitive to people who are different because she has me.
“I would basically tell her, the world is a big place and not everyone looks the same. Your mum looks different.”
As a child, Alyssa had to wear a plastic mask over her face to keep the swelling down and she endured countless operations to help her heal.
Her sister Fiavea McDonald said: “I would say I realised Alyssa was different when I was about six or seven, when they bullied her or talked about her, I usually got mad.
“They would make fun of her because she had a patch, so they used to call her a pirate.
“If I could describe Alyssa in one word it would be strong, she knows that she’s different but she knows that she can do whatever it is she wants and needs to do.”
The single mum, who is a certified nurse’s assistant, faced bullies for most of her school life but her confidence transformed when she was in high school.
She continued: “I had some rough times, because kids are blunt, school was difficult all the way up until middle school.
“Then literally one day just woke, up, I would say between 15 and 16, I woke up like look, there’s absolutely nothing in this world you can do about being burned, you cannot change it, so why dwell it? Why make it a problem?
“So one day, I was just like forget about it, I’m over it, completely over it.”
Now McDonald aspires to be a motivational speaker so that she can hep others embrace themselves, regardless of what they look like.
Alyssa said: “My burns put me in a position where I had no choice but to be confident, I couldn’t back down, I’m in the spotlight everywhere I go.
“So you know, I have to be confident because everyone’s gonna see me, when I walk in the room, I’m the thing everyone is looking at.
“My proudest moment is getting up every day and conquering the world. That is my proudest moment, that I get up every day and do what I need to do.
“I would never change my scars, they make me who I am they really do.”