It was June 5, 1997, and two-year-old Harley was asleep with her younger sister in their home in Eden, North Carolina. While their parents were outside welcoming their older sister home from school, the wires in the family’s laundry room caught fire and before anyone knew what was happening, the bedroom next door was engulfed in flames.
Harley’s father was able to rescue his two youngest daughters and save their lives, but Harley was severely burned on 80 percent of her body and was told she had less than a 2 percent chance of survival.
Over the next several months, Harley Dabbs would undergo surgery after surgery and remain hooked up to a ventilator at the hospital. When she was finally released to go home, Harley had no idea the toughest battle had not even begun yet.
When Harley started school just a few years later, she realized for the first time how cruel her peers could be. Bullied for her appearance and called hateful names all while being shunned, she began to contemplate suicide while only in eighth grade. When her friends were getting their first boyfriends and going on their first dates, she was sitting at home wondering if she should end her life.
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But in 2013, something changed. It was not something on the outside, rather it was something inside of Harley. She made the conscious decision to become more like the carefree, laughing, joyous little girl that she had not seen since that night in 1997. So for the first time in her life, she put on a blue dress and walked outside into the light of day throwing caution to the wind and daring anyone to try to rain on her parade.
Little by little, Harley Dabbs grew more confident in herself and began posting selfies on Instagram where she would soon have thousands of followers including celebrities like Kylie Jenner. Other girls who had been considering ending their life wrote Harley to tell her it was her courage that helped them get through.
Now the names she’s called sound like beautiful and inspiring. Her story has spread like the fire that tried to kill her years ago, and it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. She is a survivor.
Harley says that while she may not fit into the image of what our society says is beautiful, she doesn’t really want to and that she’s proud of the person she is today. Her strength and survival led her to get a phoenix tattooed on her back which turns out to be the perfect symbol for this survivor.
After all, phoenixes are the mythological birds that have been through the fire and risen from the ashes. We would say Harley has done more than risen to survive, she has thrived and she is an inspiration to young girls all over the world who think they have nothing to live for.
Harley, we think you are beautiful and we can’t wait to see the impact you continue to have on future generations for years to come! Shine on, gorgeous girl.
If you are in a dark place and are contemplating suicide, please reach out and get help today. There is always hope and a reason to live. You are not alone.
Top Image Source: instagram.com