Alberta woman who suffered burns as a child spreads message of inner beauty

Kelly Falardeau joined Sue Deyell and Gord Gillies at 770 CHQR to share her story.
Kelly Falardeau joined Sue Deyell and Gord Gillies at 770 CHQR to share her story. Andrea Montgomery, 770 CHQR

After suffering a life-altering childhood accident, one Alberta woman is hoping the story of her resilience will inspire others to better see their own beauty.

“I wanted to be beautiful and here I am, covered in ugly scars,” Kelly Falardeau told The Morning News on 770 CHQR. Falardeau’s scars are the result of an accident that happened at her family’s farm near Spruce Grove, Alta.

“I got burned when I was two years old. We lived on a farm, and my cousins were throwing shingles in the fire,” Falardeau recounted. “A spark came out and landed on my dress, and I ended up getting burns to 75 per cent of my body.”

Falardeau would spend an initial four months in hospital and have 18 more years of recurring surgery. She would become known as “the scar face girl” at school.

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LISTEN: Kelly Falardeau joins Gord and Sue on the Morning News to discuss Still Beautiful and her message of finding inner beauty

Though she doubted she would ever get married, Falardeau now has three children and is a motivational speaker and author trying to help people see their inner beauty.

“It’s up to all of us to look in the mirror and, even if we can’t say, ‘I am beautiful,’ go to the mirror and say, ‘I love my big, green eyes,’” Falardeau said. “That’s what I did — I started picking out parts I loved about me so that, the next time I went to the mirror, I saw everything I loved about me and not what I hated about me. And that was how I transformed myself.”

Kelly Falardeau at 770 CHQR
Kelly Falardeau at 770 CHQR

Falardeau said she had struggled for years when interacting with everyday people.

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“I remember one time going to a garage sale, and a woman said to me, ‘They couldn’t do better than that?’ And I got angry,” Falardeau recalls.

“What she meant was, ‘Why couldn’t they do some magic surgery on you to take your scars away and make you beautiful?’

“She didn’t know about all of the surgeries I had had. She didn’t understand that she was being cruel to me. But I said to myself, ‘Why am I letting a complete stranger take my power away? I’m never going to see her again.’”

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As a speaker at schools, Falardeau has been holding up a mirror to the negative self-talk of teens.

“I’ve been teaching people that the mirror doesn’t talk,” Falardeau said. “That’s something we learn at a young age watching ‘Snow White,’ that the mirror talks to us, so we believe anything we hear. The mirror is an object. It doesn’t have feelings, it doesn’t have emotions. When we talk to the mirror, that thought we have is coming from us, not from the mirror.

“Teens are telling me that they are loving that I’m helping them understand that the mirror doesn’t talk.”

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Falardeau has also been able to share her message on social media with a Goalcast video that’s been viewed more than seven million times.

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Kelly Falardeau’s Still Beautiful documentary
Kelly Falardeau’s Still Beautiful documentary

Falardeau’s life story is told in a documentary called Still Beautiful, which made its world theatrical premiere in Calgary’s Globe Cinema on Wednesday night.

“This film gives people permission to feel beautiful without having to be perfect,” Falardeau said.