Entertainment

A Woman Was Attacked By A Dog As Child– Now She Has Hair Growing Out of Her Cheek

Over the course of its five-season run, fans of the E! series “Botched” have seen it all. The series follows doctors Terry Dubrow and Paul Nassif remedy the disasters at the hands of extreme plastic surgeries. Together the two doctors have the most bizarre scenarios in plastic surgery from a woman whose breasts morphed in a “uni-boob” after a botched job, to a woman whose face was filled with cement. Once, a patient showed up to the doctors with the desire to be transformed into an alien-look alike. In the most recent episode of the series, the doctors have their work cut out for them when a woman whose surgery left her with pubic hair sprouting from her face came on the show to ask for help. 

Crystal Coombs appeared on the show to have a surgery that she’d had at age 9 fixed for the good of her self-esteem.

Not too many years ago, a serious dog bite to the face would undoubtedly lead to extreme disfigurement for the rest of a person’s life. Today, doctors have been able to improve their techniques for patching up the results of these attacks all with the help of plastic surgery. For Coombs, who had been attacked and bitten by a dog decades ago when she was 9 years old, this proved to be very true. 

“When I was 9 years old, my grandfather was holding the dog, and I was actually pretty terrified of the pitbull,” Coombs told the doctors in the episode. “All I remember is black.”

“Full attack mode?” Dubrow asks her while Nassif asked, “So he bit out the chunk of tissue?”

“Clean,” Coombs replied. “Then went to the emergency room, and there the doctors suggested that we wait until we see a plastic surgeon.” 

At the time, Coombs had been left with a gaping wound which she told the doctors of “Botched” had been “open for a while. Like how the outside of Freddie Kruger’s face looks, with the burn? That’s what the inside looked like.” Fortunately, after some time, Coombs saw a plastic surgeon who was able to create a skin graft for her. With a complex procedure, he took skin from her groin and created the graft. Sadly, when puberty began for Coombs, so did another painful aspect of her scarring. 

“So you were getting pubic hair on your face?” Nassif asks her in the episode.

The answer? Yes. Yes, she did.

Coombs began to grow pubic hair on her face. 

“Yes. Literal pubic hair. I don’t believe that the doctor mentioned I would grow pubic hair out of my patch,” she explained while speaking to the doctors. “I don’t remember that.” Fortunately, Coombs seemed to have a bit of sense of humor about the growth of hair despite the fact that it was sprouting from her cheek.

Nassif later explained on the show that Coombs, while suffering from an odd predicament was lucky. “Crystal is very lucky that the emergency room physicians didn’t just try to stitch up that big gash and opening in her cheek because the ER doctor does not have the same skill set as a plastic surgeon,” Nassif explained. “If they did, she would’ve been like this–.” Nassif tugged his eye down to show what it might have looked like for her. 

Speaking to the doctors about the hair growing from her akee, Coombs explained that she had been fine with the growth before her daughter was born.

Coombs told the doctors that the odd graft hadn’t really affected her life or self-esteem until she became a mother. “Now since having my daughter, I really started to get conscious of it,” Coombs, who is the mother of a 6 months old, explained. “I’m worried about the kids that she’ll go to school with… “After having my daughter, I am very nervous about how other kids will treat her because of how I look. I don’t want her to be teased.” 

Coombs asked the doctor if they could help her with reconstructive surgery that would be as small and minimal as possible.

Dubrow later explained that the surgery needed to reconstruct Coomb’s face is “actually very deceptively complicated” because “that skin graft is very close to critical anatomical structures like the nose, the cheeks, and the eye, that if altered even a little bit can change the entire shape of the face and look very deformed.”

Eventually, the doctors performed the surgery for Coombs and the transformation was quite remarkable. 

Speaking about her end results, Coombs explained “Before, I was way too self-conscious,” Crystal recalled. “And now, I’m no longer worried about Sana having to go through 21 questions about what’s on my face. I’m excited, I feel beautiful…it’s like a closed chapter.”

Check out a clip from the episode here.

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In ‘Fat Chance, Charlie Vega,’ A Fat Puerto Rican Teen Learns How To Love Her Body

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In ‘Fat Chance, Charlie Vega,’ A Fat Puerto Rican Teen Learns How To Love Her Body

Literature, especially fairytale-like love stories, rarely ever center on fat girls, less so on round Latinas navigating life in a suburb that thinks them too large, too loud and too brown. With Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, Crystal Maldonado demands space in the literary YA universe with a coming-of-age story of a fat Puerto Rican teen girl who falls in love with a charming classmate and, most importantly, with herself.

Like most of us, Charlie faces blows and setbacks on her journey to self-love: her father died, her mother is trying to force her into a diet, her BFF’s size, beauty and popularity intimidates her, and her classmates – including her longtime crush – are terribly unkind. Online, where the gifted writer shares short stories of romance she dreams of experiencing IRL, she finds a community that sparks her greatest love tale yet: the cyber world of body positivity. In a culture that tells Charlie that she must alter her body to be worthy of affection, she finds a group of women who love their fat figures without apologies –  allowing her to embrace her own, and, at times more difficult, realize that others can (and do!) desire her just as she is.

We spoke with the author-slash-social media manager about her sweet, funny and painfully relatable debut, touching on the need for more representation of fat girls of color in literature, writing fictional stories about experiences she understands, making the time to write a novel and advice for aspiring authors.

It’s been more than a month now that Fat Chance, Charlie Vega has been out in the world for people to read. This is your debut, it’s your baby, how are you feeling? 

I feel like calling it my baby is the perfect descriptor. I’m so proud of it, protective of it and emotional over it. I’m feeling really good and humbled by the response. When you’re putting something out in the world, you never know what could happen. It’s scary. For a while, it was a really small group that worked with me on this book, so for it to become everyone’s book all of a sudden, something that anyone can read, made me very nervous. But the reception has been positive and heartwarming, which has made this experience surreal for me in the best way.

You describe Charlie’s story as a “heavily fictionalized version of my own.” How so? 

I like to use my life experiences in my writing as an inspiration or reference material. Doing so lends authenticity to whatever I’m writing about. I think many writers, to some degree, write about things they know and understand. The saying “you write what you know” has legs for a reason. But I fictionalize things. I might have my character experience something I went through, but they’re going to have a different reaction than mine. My experience starts as a seed, a spark, and it helps me get creative and introduce new characters, scenes and dialogue that help the entire story bloom. I just wanted to write a book about a fat Puerto Rican girl falling in love, and I’m a fat Puerto Rican girl who fell in love. Charlie and I have some similarities, but she really does have a life of her own with her own identity and adventures. 

What was that process like for you, to tap into intimate feelings, struggles and experiences through a fictionalized character? Was it healing for you? Did it help you process things? Were there times where you were like, “OK, this is getting too heavy, too close to home, I have to give this a break for a bit?”

I have the fortune of being well-removed from being a teenager. I’ve had a lot of time and experience away from these things that I might have experienced when I was a teen. It’s certainly not as upsetting as it was when I was 16 and experiencing it. For me, it was more therapeutic to write about microaggressions that fat brown girls experience and validate them through the page. I want it to help others who have had similar things happen to them or share similar mindsets. In that sense, I’ve found it almost empowering. I had so much time between when I was a teen and now. I’ve gone to therapy and am in a healthy relationship, so it’s easier for me to go back and revisit and think what might have been helpful for me when I was that age. I thought, what lessons do I wish I had known then? It took me a really long time to be OK with my body and self. My greatest hope is that the people reading this novel can take a page from Charlie’s book and work on loving themselves.  

Writing a novel that is personal to you, how were you able to separate Charlie from Crystal, to create a story that’s inspired but isn’t entirely yours? That sounds difficult.

In the beginning, when I started writing the book, it was harder to separate my experience as 16-year-old Crystal from Charlie’s, but the more I wrote and the more the story started to take shape, the more Charlie took on a life of her own. She had her own voice, goals and life. It got easier as the story grew and I built these side characters and scenarios Charlie goes through. I wanted to include some things that I had direct experience with. Because I grew up a fat Puerto Rican girl, I know a thing or two, but I wanted to give Charlie her own story. For instance, the part where Charlie and Amelia go shopping together. I never had a best friend like Amelia, but I have been shopping with friends before, so I can relate to that and share what I know, but it’s not going to be the same, so I also have to be imaginative. The creative freedom to do what you want helped me separate myself from the character. 

I know that representation is really important to you and that you feel that there aren’t enough “complex, nuanced depictions of fat girls” in literature. I 100% agree. Why do you think this representation, particularly of a racialized fat body, is necessary, especially in YA?

Right now, I just feel like we still have so few fat girls in literature and media in general, and then when you break it down and look at how many fat characters we have who are Black, Puerto Rican or Latinx, it gets so small so fast. There are almost no characters, at least none portrayed  in a positive way. There are so few, yet there are so many of us out here in the real world. There’s a disconnect. Also, most fat girl characters center on their fatness. Even in Charlie’s case, her body is an essential piece of her story and journey. I would love to move in the direction where we have all kinds of stories about fat brown folks where their fatness isn’t integral but rather just a part of who they are. 

As I’ve been reading this book, I’ve found myself getting really emotional understanding some of the complex feelings and moments Charlie experiences, with her weight, with having what we think is a perfect best friend and connecting beauty and size to our self-worth. It made me wish a book like this one existed when I was a teenager. Beyond representation, what do you think Charlie, her story and her complexity offer to young readers and the unhealed young girl that might still exist in us as women?

First, thank you for sharing that and saying that. I think Charlie’s story, her relationship with her body and what she hears from society – these big opinions – are things most women go through and experience forever. I’ve been hearing from women of all ages who are reading the story and telling me they needed to hear the things that Charlie needs to hear, and they’re older women, not teens anymore. We’re still in a society that puts immense pressure on women to look a certain way. We live in a fatphobic society. Yes, we’ve made strides. We’re talking more about body positivity, but, also, these movements are getting co-opted by brands. Suddenly, body positivity has become this cute, fun thing that brands use rather than work to dismantle diet culture. It’s really hard to navigate no matter how old you are. My hope is that the book sheds light on these experiences and also sparks conversations about bodily autonomy, because it’s still a revolutionary idea. It’s unfortunate that we still believe we can police other people’s bodies. If it’s not your body, it’s truly not your business. Let people live. 

I know that while you wrote Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, you still had a full-time social media job. How long did you work on this novel and how were you able to make time for this while having a career?

I love this question! I think being open about how you were able to accomplish things is important. Like you said, there’s this perception out there that everyone can create if they try hard enough, but there is a lot of privilege in this. For me, for this story, I wrote the bulk of this story in 2016. I wasn’t a mom yet, but I was married and working at a full-time job with some flexibility. I was able to take some time off, and I was also able to work on my book during my hour-long lunch breaks. This was a privilege. By the time I was editing my book, I was a new mom in a demanding new job – then add a pandemic on top of that! I needed to ask for help. This meant sometimes I was writing in the early morning or late at night, depending on when my baby was asleep. Pre-pandemic, I received a lot of support from my family, but afterwards, I was mostly closed up in my bubble at home, just me, my husband and the kid. Luckily, my husband has been so supportive. I couldn’t do it without having his encouragement. Also, I couldn’t do this if I didn’t have the money to afford childcare. 

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is your literary debut, and in addition to it being a great and necessary read, it has also received a lot of wonderful press. Do you have any advice for aspiring Latina writers with a story to tell but unsure where to start?

I started out writing this book on my own. I was too scared to reach out and let people know I was trying to write a book. I don’t recommend that. I recommend finding a writing community, even if it’s just one person, to be a support through the process. My husband was so supportive, but I’m sure he would have appreciated my having more people to lean on during this process. 

I also think it’s important to find someone who understands the nuances of the publishing industry. I had no idea where to start, and now I’m in it and I realize there are places to start: Twitter has #writingcommunities and accounts that exist like @latinosinkidlit, which shares the work of other authors and helps you to start getting involved. 

Find authors doing the same thing you are and navigate this terrifying industry together. I was fortunate to find Las Musas. It’s a phenomenal community for women and non-binary Latinx folk who are authors of kid lit, including picture books, middle grade books and YA. It’s an amazing collective of people who have been where you are. Since joining, I’ve made incredible friends who get it, get what it’s like to tell stories that feel authentic to us and then sell those stories to publishing houses who don’t see value in it. I’m super fortunate that my publisher was accommodating of all the identities and diversity in my book, but I’ve heard others who struggled with that. Having a community, especially fellow Latinas, in your corner can be helpful. 

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is available where books are sold.

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Here’s What You Should Know About Getting Your Covid Vaccine

Entertainment

Here’s What You Should Know About Getting Your Covid Vaccine

FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP via Getty Images

The world has almost turned the page on the Covid pandemic that has upended our lives for the last year. Vaccine strategies across the nation are helping to end the pandemic, but we are not out of the woods yet. Here are some things you and your family should know about getting your vaccination.

The vaccines are safe and effective.

In the U.S., there are three main vaccines that people are getting: Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. All three have been proven to be safe and effective. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 109 million doses of the vaccines have been administered to people in the U.S. Millions of Americans have lined up and gotten vaccinated with a very small number experiencing the rare serious side effects.

The common side effects from the Covid vaccine are pain or swelling at the injection site, headache and chills, or a fever. These side effects disappear on their own quickly. After your vaccine, according to the CDC, you can expect to be asked to wait 15-30 minutes to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. Vaccination personnel are equipped with the medication and treatments needed to reverse serious and threatening allergic reactions to the vaccine.

There are currently three vaccines available in the U.S.

Americans can expect to receive either the Pfizer-BioTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson / Janssen vaccine. Currently, these three are the vaccines that have been approved for use in the U.S. to end the pandemic. Pfizer-BioTech and Moderna vaccines require two shots taken three weeks and four weeks apart, respectively. Johnson & Johnson is a one-shot vaccine. All have been proven effective in preventing hospitalization from the virus.

There are currently two more vaccines in Phase 3 of their trial that could bring even more relief to the American public. The Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novava vaccines are currently being tested and are showing promising results in the U.S. trials.

Speak with your healthcare provider about medications and the vaccine.

There is still a lot we do not know about the vaccine as we are still learning its full effect. As of now, healthcare providers and experts don’t recommend taking pain relievers (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen) or antihistamines to avoid vaccination side effects. It is unclear how these medications will impact the efficacy of the vaccine.

The vaccine is not a replacement for wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

It is important to make sure that you follow proper Covid safety guidelines when you get vaccinated. This is for the safety of you, your healthcare provider, and anyone else in the area.

Covid safety guidelines aren’t going away any time soon. Even as you and those you know get vaccinated, it is important that people continue to wear masks when in public and maintain social distancing when possible. While the vaccines are effective in protecting you from getting sick and going to the hospital, doctors are still learning whether or not vaccinated people can spread Covid. This is why fully vaccinated people need to practice social distancing and continue wearing masks to ensure that they keep their communities safe.

However, for people who are fully vaccinated, life is a little freer. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can gather with other fully vaccinated people indoors without masks and no social distancing. Fully vaccinated people can even gather with one unvaccinated person from another household who is at a low-risk of severe Covid infection. Lastly, fully vaccinated people do not have to quarantine when they are exposed if asymptomatic.

This is the first set of guidelines released for fully vaccinated people and it is showing that life can start getting back to normal as more people line up to get their shots when they are eligible.

READ: Rite Aid Refused To Give Undocumented Residents The COVID-19 Vaccine Even Though They’re Eligible

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