Burn Survivor Larra Lasam on Beauty Beyond Physical Features
Beauty

Larra Lasam on Beauty as a Personal Reconstruction

Photo by Elijah Paul S. Lasam courtesy of Larra Lasam

Tragedy brought forth an irreversible transformation for Larra Lasam. The now-content creator opens up to Vogue Philippines about her new journey of beauty.

“I know you’re all too polite to ask, so I’ll tell you.” 

This is how 23 year old psychology student and content creator Larra Lasam begins her keynote speech at the She Talks Asia Summit 2024. Lasam harnesses the quiet, curious, and tense energy in the room with a self-assured yet calm demeanor as she tells the story which answers the “why” and “how” questions in everyone’s minds. 

When Lasam was eleven years old, she was trapped in a burning bathroom during a power outage. While she and her younger cousin were able to escape eventually, it wasn’t before the fire caught up with their bodies. “As we were running out, I spotted my reflection in a mirror and asked myself, ‘What will my life be like after this?’” Lasam says. 

Courtesy of Larra Lasam

Due to the incident, Lasam and her cousin had to undergo nine surgeries. On the ninth, the doctors advised against the use of general anesthesia, fearing that she might not be able to wake up. Due to this, Lasam had the final surgery performed on her fully awake. More than the physical pain of the fire and her hospitalization, the effects of the fire brought a new set of difficulties to Lasam’s already challenging adolescence. “The insecurity that I had before doubled—even tripled— because I was covered in scars.” Lasam says in a video on her YouTube channel. “For the next seven years, what I did was hide from the world.” Due to the scars caused by the burns on more than 40% of her body, Lasam spent the first several years of recovery wearing masks and cardigans to hide them. 

Lasam’s road to recovery and acceptance was far from easy. “I went through a really rough patch with body image.” Lasam tells Vogue Philippines. “I used to cover my scars because I thought if I couldn’t see them, I would be more focused on things other than my physicality. It was a really long process.” Eventually, Lasam found the courage to be comfortable with her features and her body, through a personal reconstruction on what beauty is and what it meant to her. 

Courtesy of The Norsunian Bais

“A fundamental truth I would always remind myself is what I currently think about my physical state is very arbitrary.” Lasam says, reflecting on how some days, the insecurities still creep in. “I established a principle that regardless of how I feel or how other people perceive it, my beauty still exists in a paradoxical way: elusive and omnipresent.” 

Now, Lasam dresses more confidently and comfortably, and is often seen wearing linen sundresses and light, breezy shirts. Just like any other girl her age, she enjoys applying makeup and taking selfies as well as sharing snippets of her life through social media. 

Lasam’s foray into content creation started when she got a hand-me-down camera from her sister. “I’m fascinated by pictures and videos, and I love storytelling.” Lasam says. “It just came naturally. I consider it as ‘self-expression’ turned into ‘content creation.’” During the pandemic, Lasam decided to record herself and her story, and it was not long before people online took notice. “I didn’t have anyone to talk to apart from my family, and I needed an outlet to express myself.” Lasam says.

Courtesy of Larra Lasam

Now, when people approach her to ask her about her experiences, the explanation is just a link away. “It was easier for me to have conversations with people. When they ask me what happened, I would just direct them to the videos I posted.” Lasam says, joking and earnest. 

However, her content does not only revolve around the tragedy she faced, as Lasam’s content also encompasses her various other interests. On her Tiktok account, she documents her experiences joining the University of the Philippines Cebu’s track and field team, diving, traveling, and even humorous videos with her family and friends. 

Prior to the fire, growing up as an overachiever with various hobbies and a unique outlook on life, Lasam naturally invited attention. Now, with her courageous perspectives on beauty and identity, she empowers people to redefine what these concepts mean for themselves. Larra Lasam’s message for anyone who has ever felt less beautiful is something her younger self needed to hear: “Forgive yourself for thinking that about yourself. Give yourself some grace and afterwards, take whatever it is that you think is defining you and tell yourself, ‘I am more than that.’”

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