The world can be a harsh place. It’s easy for most people to shun and judge something that they can’t understand. But when a person opens up to the world and lets their vulnerability shine through, remarkable things can happen. For singer-songwriter Marsha Elle, her openness helped her accept who she is while inspiring hundreds from around the world.
Image from marshaellemusic.com
It took a while for Elle to decide to share her photos online. Last year, the 25-year-old singer-songwriter posed for photos wearing a swimsuit. This decision was a huge step for someone who only got the courage to wear shorts at 23 years old.
The aversion towards shorts stemmed from more than two decades of disguising her prosthetic leg. Elle was born with a condition called proximal femoral focal deficiency, which made one leg significantly shorter than other. At 9 months old, her mother brought her from Haiti to the U.S. to receive medical care. And when she turned 5, she started wearing her first prosthesis.
At that time, prostheses weren’t available in any other color; caucasian was the default hue. Because of this, Elle’s mother sought to protect her from unwarranted stares and the inevitable bullying at school. At some point during her childhood, Elle remembered wearing pants beneath a dress for a musical performance. It was tough being the odd one out, but she pressed on.
However, the adjustment period wouldn’t get any better. In middle school, Elle's foot was amputated, and she was met with even more challenges. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Elle recalled the times when
The adjustment period was tough on Elle. Her mother often made her wear pants under her dresses to protect from stares and bullying. And when her foot was amputated in middle school. While this development gave her more mobility, getting used to her new leg meant overcoming a few more challenges. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Elle recalled the countless times that she fell in the cafeteria, often bringing her lunch down with her.
The turning point for Elle happened when she was 16. She attended summer camp for teenage amputees. Hearing other people’s stories and being around them for the most part of the summer made her accept who she is.
At this time, she also learned that she can turn to music as a creative outlet. In 2010, Elle began releasing her music, which allowed her to see how her story and her honesty allowed more people to relate to her and take comfort in her songs.
While her music allowed her to open up to more and more people, there was one more thing that she wanted to do. She kept this desire at the back of her mind, but it was there. Then, last year, Elle finally got the courage to pose in a bathing suit. For someone who has always been insecure about her adductor roll, this was a huge victory. She also shared that even though she lives in Florida, she has never gone swimming in a bathing suit.
Posing for the photos took a particular kind of courage, but sharing it with the whole world needed another. It required a higher level of vulnerability that, until this point, Elle has never encountered in her life. But she pressed on, knowing that this is what she wanted. So, she shared her photos despite the possibility of a backlash.
As soon as she posted her photos, the most beautiful thing happened to her—she was overflowing with positive energy. People shared encouraging messages, and amputees from around the world let her know how grateful they were for her honesty. It was around this unprecedented moment of vulnerability that her music career gained momentum. Her album “Brave” is currently available on iTunes.
One of the most memorable phrases Elle has ever uttered in an interview is a spin on “uphill battles,” which she accurately reworded as “series of triumphs on top of triumphs over time.” This feat alone is definitely a massive triumph for Elle. And it also paves the way for even more victories in the future.