Brooklinn Khoury says she leaned into the 'new version' of herself after dog attack: 'I needed to love myself'
The skateboarder and model says she "wanted to love myself before I was looking for it in everybody else."
It Figures is Yahoo Life's body image series, delving into the journeys of influential and inspiring figures as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.
Skateboarder and model Brooklinn Khoury knows what it's like to fall — and how to get back up.
"You have to know that's going to happen, and that's part of the experience," the 23-year-old tells Yahoo Life. "Anyone who starts skateboarding, they'll ask, 'What's something you can tell me that will inspire me to keep skating?' and I'll say, 'Get up when you fall. You're going to fall — be prepared for that. But just know that when you land, it's going to feel so good.'"
Khoury knows that experience well. In November 2020, Khoury was attacked by a family member's dog, leaving her without an upper lip and part of her nose. Seven surgeries and more than two years later, Khoury's doctors were able to recreate a lip for her. She tells Yahoo Life her doctors just cleared her to skate again after her latest reconstructive surgery.
For Khoury, navigating her beloved sport has become a bit trickier these days. Falling is inevitable, of course, but she doesn’t want to get hurt all over again.
"As much as I love skating, I know my limits," she says.
It's not just the sport that Khoury loves but also the community she's found through it, especially in the wake of her accident. Her peers never made her feel insecure about what happened, simply because "no one asked" about her face.
"When you're a skater, you just see so many broken bones and things that happen," she explains. "I never got questions about what was wrong or what was going on or why I was wearing tape or why I looked different. Everyone was … so welcoming and so non-judgmental. Leaving the skatepark I had that like, 'Nobody cares,' in my head, but in society, people were always very like, 'What the heck is wrong with your face? Why are you wearing that?'"
Following her accident, Khoury turned to social media, initially to find someone who had experienced a similar trauma. She couldn't find anyone she could relate to, so, she started making YouTube videos to share her experience in hopes she could be that person for someone else.
"I didn't know what I was about to endure, but I knew it would be very long, and I wanted to take it one day at a time," she says. "I wanted people to know it could be OK, if they are going through something mentally or physically. They could have something to relate to, and just come along in the process. Sharing my story has brought so many people to share theirs as well. Reading everyone else's experiences, it helped me grow — I know I'm not alone, either."
One thing that helped Khoury was deciding that the image she had of herself prior to the accident was from a "closed chapter" of her life. For a while, she says, she didn't want to look at photos from before the accident.
"I was trying to lean into the new version of myself. Looking in mirrors was definitely hard at first — I was definitely shocked at how I looked — but I knew I needed to love myself," she says. "I wanted to love myself before I was looking for it in everybody else."
That’s not to say Khoury hasn't had bad days on her journey. During hard times, she turned to her girlfriend, Dance Moms alum Chloé Lukasiak, for support.
"I came home one day and I was a little upset," she recalls. "I had so many doctor's appointments and so many people telling me 'no' and I just was starting to lose hope. I remember she put little Post-It notes on the mirror right where my face would be — things like, 'You are beautiful.' I would just look at that and my self-love and reassurance grew."
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