“Even though I call myself Bravescar, I still suffer insecurities and I don’t think I’d be normal if I didn’t. No-one has a one hundred per cent, no care attitude” says Justyn Hollet with a shrug.
Hollett is a 25-year-old film maker, blogger, mental health advocate and personal trainer from Croydon who calls himself Bravescar due to the third degree burns and scars over his neck and upper body.
Sitting in his camouflage trousers and a t-shirt that says, ‘Brave AF/Bravescar’ with a big smile on his face, Hollett says the Bravescar-Body Image event that he just finished hosting in The Front Room in Croydon, was the first he had ever done.
The event featured performances from people who faced their own issues around body image. There was also a panel, where participants spoke about mental health issues. Panellists included Hollett, Keren Ado a trainee psychologist, Queen Mojo a body confidence advocate and Fisky a poet and founder of Mind over Matter.
Now that the event is over Hollett feels a sense of happiness knowing he has done something positive that can change people’s lives, saying such talks help heal himself and he hopes, others.
He says: “Growing up I never went to an event like this, I’ve never seen someone with a burn until later on in life and that’s shocking.” He wanted to create a safe place where people could share their experiences and grow.
Talking about the inspiration behind his name, Hollett laughs and says: “It was going to be ‘scarredbrave’ at one point and it just didn’t sound right.” He shakes his head, a smile on his face. “The word brave got thrown at me a lot growing up. So, I thought maybe I am, maybe I should own it and that I should put two words that don’t go together, together. It’s the name that stuck and I’m happy I went with it. Putting a positive with a negative and making it who I am today.”
Although it was a traumatic experience Hollett never let it get in the way when making friends.
“Because my scars weren’t as visible, I’ve always felt that I could assimilate into different crowds and lead with my personality.” He says. “I was never bullied which is a shock to people as quite a lot of people who have scars have been or do get bullied and I was never, so I have always been able to look outside of my body and look at life without having the trauma.”
However, just like most people, Hollett still suffers insecurities.
“Changing rooms at school were a bit awkward, when you don’t want anyone to see anything you change fast, or you find ways out and I still do that when I go to the gym. I don’t want to use the gym changing room or the showers. This is me saying to myself, its because you’re scared of peoples judgement and I think we’re all human beings who want acceptance.” He shrugs as he says the last bit.
A single angel wing is tattooed over one of his scars. He says: “It was once an ugly place for me and now, it’s a place of freedom and power.”
When going into a relationship Hollett describes it as an: “analogy of coming out each time”. He says telling someone about his scars is nerve wracking, “you have to wait for what the person is going to say and then they say its fine but that insecure part of your mind says, ‘do they really’ and you question everything.” He looks down. “It hasn’t stopped me, and I won’t let it stop me,” he says with a faint smile.
Since Hollett was young, he used painting to express himself. “I’m able to create something out of nothing. Whether it’s making an event or making a film. It’s always beautiful having a plain canvas like our bodies and changing it and transforming it. There’s something empowering about that, knowing I created that. That’s how painting helps, its therapy.” He says sitting up straighter and using his hands to express himself.
Hollett has had reconstructive surgery. “Being a personal trainer, I like to push my body, challenge myself and be brave. Just to shock my body and say you can do it,” he says with a look of determination.
“I want to help other people with scars and show that you could be disabled in a certain way, but still be able. You can do amazing things.”