November 9th, 2012
09:43 AM ET

Healing wounds, one tattoo at a time

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. Basma Hameed was severely burned as a toddler and lived with visible scars for a long time.  Then she found tattoos and a way to help others overcome their pain. 

After 16 years of constant surgeries and pain, nothing can compare to the pain of people's stares and comments.  Imagine going through so many surgeries, then meeting someone and the first thing they say is: "What happened to your face? Have you tried surgery?"

People could not accept my scars and the main reason was because I had not accepted them myself.  I couldn't accept that this accident did happen to me and this is my face forever.

I was in denial for so many years. I would lock myself in my bedroom and did not want to go outside because I was not comfortable with everyone's reactions.

I did not have anyone I could relate to growing up, and I did not look like what the media portrays as "beautiful."  I believed that if  you didn't look a certain way, then you could not be accepted and were not "normal."

Then I realized that the media's perception of beauty was not real. Beauty is something that is unattainable - perfection does not exist, no matter how hard you try. I had unrealistic expectations and I was setting myself up for disappointment and failure every time. Once you fix one thing, then another thing comes up, and it's a never-ending cycle.  That played a big role in my life and my self-esteem.

Instead of me working on my outside, I really needed to work on my inside. I started to focus more on who I was and not what I looked like.  I started to appreciate my life more and recognize all the positive things around me, as well as think about who I am and my purpose.  I realized that I deserve to be treated equally, but it was nothing anyone could do - it had to start with me first!

Once I accepted my burn and started to think positively, my life changed and I became much happier with myself. I am so grateful to be alive and to have gone through such an experience because it made me who I am today.

What is my definition of beauty? Being beautiful is being comfortable with yourself, loving yourself and never giving up on yourself. Everyone has a challenge in life and that was mine.  I want people to be inspired by my story and never give up, no matter what happens.

I want us to set better examples for our children and be positive role models for them, so they do not let their insecurities take over their lives. Now I can help people who are going through similar situations and need someone who understands.

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. jane

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    November 10, 2012 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. matt

    Thank you. This was a great piece.

    November 10, 2012 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Rhonda

    Amazing story.

    November 10, 2012 at 02:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. brunodarkhorse

    That was cool. God bless her for her strength to pull through such tragic experience and still help others!

    November 10, 2012 at 03:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Chef2490

    She's still very beautiful, with or without the scars. (Pretty to the point where a lot of guys would be intimidated upon asking her out for coffee.) Utterly fantastic view on life, even with the harships she's faced. All too often are we more concerned with outside appearance rather than what's on the inside. Sadly, there are far too few people like her in this world.

    November 10, 2012 at 03:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. GetReal77

    Yes, she's definitely beautiful. The scars are a non-issue since they seem barely noticeable. I would definitely ask a woman like that out for date. From a 41 year old man in Pasadena, CA. 😀

    November 10, 2012 at 04:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. David

    I don't see anything wrong here.

    November 10, 2012 at 04:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. m wise

    you are beautiful....... ignore anyone who sees the other way.............

    November 10, 2012 at 04:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sophie

    you are acceptable looking, and should not no longer worry. you also have beautiful eyes, and eyes are the window of our souls, count this one beautiful factor as a real plus. I hope you have many blessings in life, go on to date quality people. Men who are rude to you should be eliminated quickly, as you deserve a fine Christian man anyways.

    November 10, 2012 at 06:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Dave

    wolf, wolf....

    November 10, 2012 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Voodoo Idol

    Man, you can barely see any scars at all – she's gorgeous!

    November 10, 2012 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Lou_Sanus

    wth does this have to do with tattoos?

    November 10, 2012 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • blckwdw

      Watch the video... it's all about using micro pigmentation to cover up scars. Pretty nifty technology for people who have been scarred in one way or another.

      November 10, 2012 at 09:21 | Report abuse |
  13. jaimie

    Hold your head up high. You are precious in his eyes as well as everyone else. Bless you and a big hug.

    November 10, 2012 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. OpposingView

    How a person deals with such problems often depends on whether a person is an "introvert" or an "extrovert". For example, I'm an introvert and proud of it, and it is rare that I meet someone like myself. Introverts tend to look inwardly and draw strength from their own existence within, and could care less what other people think of them. In contrast, extroverts tend to look outwardly and draw strength from other people, from their opinions, and from what other people think of them. And that is a sad shape to be in, because when you're someone who places value on other people's opinions, then when other people think negatively of you for wherever reason, whether warranted or unwarranted, it can make you feel depressed or feeling inferior to them. You're like a reed being cast about in the wind, being tossed to an fro based on people opinions of you. In contrast, an introvert already understands their true worth and feels inferior to no one. In fact, I've long realized that there is beauty and worth in everyone, they just need to realize it. For example, even if you were to show me a person who was severely deformed and was the ugliest person on earth, what has their deformity to do with the beauty of their mind? Answer: Nothing. They may be deformed outwardly but could be extremely beautiful on the inside. For example, imagine if you were communicating with that person from a computer on the other side of the world and you never even met them in person. Their expression of thoughts and personal ideas could be extremely beautiful to you, and you would never know any difference. So why then do you shrink away from such a person and think they are ugly if you meet them in person? If you do, then the problem lies with you. I think the absolute best thing you can do for any person who feels they are ugly is to help them to see and to understand that real beauty lies within, and then help them to discover that beauty. And that the fixation which most people have on outward appearance is not all its cracked up to be. Although it's nice to have, it's not worth very much and is fleeting at best…

    November 10, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Brandon

    Your true beauty is being seen around the world... I'd ask you out in a heartbeat.

    November 10, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Chase

    What did this have to do with tattoos? The name is healing wounds, one tattoo at a time and they mention tattoos not once in the article. You people are idiots.

    November 10, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lance

      Micro pigment implantation is another word for tattoo. She tattooed her scar with skin tone pigments, it's genius! Watch the video

      November 10, 2012 at 18:19 | Report abuse |
  17. OpposingView

    Even worse, some people spend their whole lives feeling sorry for themselves and feeling mistreated, when the reality is, there are a whole lot of people in the world who are a lot worse off that you are. For example, there are people in the world who only wish they could be you. Imagine all of those people with true afflictions, people who were afflicted from birth and walk with a hobble and have to drag their crippled leg down the street, people who has down syndrome or some other kind of disease where their tongue hangs out of their mouth, they always look cross-eyed, or they can't talk without slurred speech. You could have been one of them. But you weren't. You were born and blessed with all of your faculties, only a few blemishes on your skin – and you're complaining about that. Imagine if you were born in the jungles of Africa where you had deep black skin and no food to eat or had to eat worms, meanwhile men from other tribes were raping and killing your relatives and hacking off their limbs. Imagine if you had to grow up in that. But you didn't. You were blessed with something far better – yet, you're complaining. Lastly, do you know who the most beautiful angel of all was? His name was Lucifer. God said he was "perfect in beauty". And look where all that beauty got him. He became high-minded because of that beauty and ended up in hell. So you should be thankful for what you got and be thankful you were not born looking like someone else. You may find your life is not so bad after all if you look at it from the right perspective...

    November 10, 2012 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • annette white

      just a quick comment for you.basma nor myself have ever felt sorry for ourselves and i assure you i know there are people with worst things but that's the problem isn't it.when i was growing up none of the kids would play with me ,they hit me ,spit on me, called me names ,etc.at one point it got so bad the teachers feared for my safety,but i never felt sorry for myself or thought i was ugly.instead i felt bad for the kids that were so mean to me because they will have to answer for there actions one day. my birth mark has always been just that to me a little red mark on my face i never understood why it was such a big deal to everyone else,and i wondered if i was being treated so bad how were other people with different problems being treated and the thoughts of someone else feeling that hurt made me cry and still does.i am tattooing my face not for my benifit but for my family so maybe when we go out they do not have to constanly witness how cruel some people in this world can be .i am fourty years old and have never been able to leave my house without having someone say something about how i look.i love my life because i am alive and thats enough for me i just wish everyone else felt the same

      November 13, 2012 at 18:00 | Report abuse |
  18. gallopagus

    For the record, she IS beautiful!

    November 15, 2012 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Brianw

    Truly inspirational, and an exquisite story.

    December 9, 2012 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. ganha dinheiro

    http://www.patraoonline.com ganha dinheiro http://www.patraoonline.com/

    July 13, 2013 at 05:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Atheer

    You are like telling my story. I have been suffering from burns for 16 years. I am thinking about coming to your clinic, but I am afraid that you can't tattoo my face because I am a diabetic patient. I hope it won't be a problem I did tattooed my arms and nothing happened to me as I do control my diabetes very well.

    June 26, 2016 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply

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