A woman left with severe facial burns after narrowly escaping an horrific fire as a baby has revealed her fear that her own children will be bullied because of her scars.
Annie Price, now 30, from Mitcham in London, was rescued from a caravan fire on a hatching site by her grandmother when she was a baby, and went on to have a series of operations throughout her childhood to try and repair her life-altering scars.
Now engaged to her partner Sam and pregnant with their first child, Annie also told how she’s terrified her child will come to dislike the way she looks because of other people’s opinions – prompting her to consider more surgery 12 years after she last went under the knife.
BBC Three cameras followed Annie as she travelled to Seoul in South Korea to seek advice from specialist surgeons about getting a nose job.
In the documentary, Plastic Surgery Capital of the World, Annie says her biggest fear is that her child will ask her not to pick them up from school – because they are ashamed of the way she looks.
While there, Annie had an emotional meeting with another burns victim, Song, who opened up about her own struggles with living with scars in a society where first impressions are ‘everything’ – and beauty is often valued over education.
Pregnant Annie, who was rescued from a burning caravan as a baby, revealed in a BBC Three documentary her fears over how her child will react to her scars
Now 30, Annie had multiple surgeries as a child – the last one 12 years ago
Annie revealed her concerns about her own looks, and that she was contemplating having a nose job to ‘look better’
As part of a BBC Three documentary Annie visited Seoul in South Korea where she met with another burns victim to talk about growing up in the capital that valued beauty above education
Song, whose face was burned when she was injured in a gas explosion as a baby, told Annie how she was bullied as a child by her peers and ‘grew up lonely’.
She explained that her own child had questioned the way she looked, and that his friends at school bullied him because of his mother’s appearance – prompting Song to ask Annie how she would cope if the same happened to her.
‘My kids getting bullied on account of me was something I was worried about,’ Annie said.
‘I actually spoke to my mum about it because it’s such a small thing. I know a lot of people will be like: “You should be worrying about your kids’ health”. I don’t want people thinking I’m vain.
‘But things are difficult and I know how I can deal with things, but having to instill that into children – I don’t know how that would work. I think my approach will be that I’ll just be honest.’
‘I think the worst thing would be if my kid came home and was like “I don’t want you to drop me at school”,’ said Annie.
‘I would struggle with that.’
Song explained that she had being injured as a child in a gas explosion and had been bullied growing up
Annie added that she hoped to encourage her children to stand up to bullies, and tell them that they should have respect for her and their family.
‘It is something I would rather not deal with, but that’s life,’ she said.
She broke down in tears as Song told her she had been judged her entire life, and even struggled to find a job because in Korea it is compulsory to include a photo with a CV.
Annie said she she too felt she was not traditionally beautiful according to other people’s standards, and that she was considering having cosmetic surgery on her nose.
‘[I want to [have my nose a bit lower. I want to wear sunglasses, I think my nose looks weird with sunglasses,’ she said.
‘So yeah, that’s for a look. I would like my eyes to look nicer.
‘Obviously I would probably go for function but no, I do want to look better. I would like to look better.’
She visited plastic surgeons on her trip, one of whom told her she didn’t need a nose job and another suggested she could get a reconstruction of the tip of her nose
A top plastic surgeon in Seoul made a simulation of how her nose could look, but said it would be difficult because of the skin contraction on her face
However, Annie broke down in tears when the surgeon said he would be able to help her with her hands – explaining that a skin graft could loosen the scars and enable her to bend her fingers
During her trip to Seoul Annie visited the Gangnam district, where more than 400 cosmetic surgeries are clustered in one small area.
She visited with a top plastic surgeon who advised her that while she could have a nose reconstruction, the visible results would be minimal because of the skin contracture – or scar tissue – on her face.
But he did point out that Annie could have skin graft surgery on her scarred hands to release the scar tissue and allow her to bend her fingers – a prospect that left her in tears.
‘It made me realise what is important to me. It’s a huge thing for me. They ache a lot and if I can’t use them I can’t work,’ she said after the consultation.
Reflecting on her trip six weeks later, Annie said: ‘I feel guilty about wanting to have things done when I am about to have a child.
‘But there’s still a part of me [that] wants to sort my nose out.
‘In light of how I lived my life I am going to have to go for it.’
Plastic Surgery Capital of the World is available to watch on BBC iPlayer