At just 10-years-old, Danette Haag’s life was forever changed when she was severely burned in a home gas explosion. The little girl beat the odds and survived, but the event left her with scars all over her face and body. Thirty years later, she went from burn victim to beauty contestant and finally had the confidence to walk in a beauty pageant.
Danette Haag: From Burn Victim To Beauty Contestant
In the first 24 hours after the gas explosion, 10-year-old Danette wasn’t expected to live. In a coma, the medical staff told her family to come in and say goodbye. However, by miracle or medical marvel, she survived. Thirty years later, she went from burn victim to beauty contestant – but the journey was long and difficult. (1)
Simply surviving the explosion was just her first battle. The much longer (and arguably even more difficult) were the years of pain, surgeries, and going through life covered in scars.
“A lot of pain, tons and tons of surgeries, physical therapy, pressure garments, facemasks, all of that that I had to wear for years and years and years, and just facing the world looking different covered in scars. It was not just a physical battle, but became an emotional battle as well.” she explains. (1)
She Dreamed Of Being Miss America
As a child, she watched the Miss America pageant with awe. Those women, however, didn’t look like her. They had no flaws, no imperfections, and most importantly, no scars. She didn’t think something like that would ever happen for her.
It took decades of work on self-love and self-acceptance. She had to learn where real beauty really comes from and learn to find that within herself.
“I see my scars as a gift because they’ve taught me so much about growing our true beauty, digging into our souls, and developing our character,” she says. “My scars are a symbol of where I’ve been, but they certainly don’t dictate where I’m headed.” (1)
Her Advice To Others
Danette was forced at a very young age to grapple with the fact that, by no fault of her own, she was different. She did not fit into traditional beauty standards, and she never would. Though extremely challenging, she learned to love and accept her flaws and see herself as beautiful and deserving, just the same.
“I think we all have a tendency to focus on what we can’t do instead of what we can do. Whether it’s just healing past a scar in life or fulfilling some sort of dream that’s always been inside of you, that’s something we all have in common,” she says. (1)
She believes that if her younger self could see her walking across that beauty contest stage, she would be extraordinarily proud. She wants to be an example to other people that setbacks or challenges don’t have to be a life sentence.
“I’m hoping that I can encourage so many people to follow their dreams, no matter how old you are or how broken you think that dream may be.” (1)
We hold ourselves back, not these extra challenges or struggles we may have. If you want something, go after it – even if you have to bust a door down to get there.
- “From burn victim to beauty contestant.” ABC7. March 1, 2021