I write this as my husband drives us home from Laredo, his home town. I am very, very hung over. So, I apologize if my incredible wit isn’t on point today. But the day has come, I’ve turned into my mother, whom my sisters and I lovingly call One-Shot-Sheri. For obvious reasons. Praise the Lord for mother in laws who watch your babies and for carbs. Oh, sweet carbs. I am picturing the muffin I ate while I sat next to my son and begged him to eat his vegetables. Hung over, begging my almost two year old to eat his food…living my best life.
Which brings me to my next point. The idealization of perfection (not a great transition but I’ll take what I can get). To get to my point, I’ll share my biggest insecurity. The scar on my chest. In my mind, I had so much to say, but as I sit here with my pen and paper I’m suddenly nervous again. Okay, ramming past it because that’s what you do when you gotta squeeze in a nap and write a post while your toddler naps and a lady’s gotta lot to say.
Okay, so. I have a scar. Long story short, some background, it’s a keloid, the chest is a very susceptible place to keloid. Keloids to all my homies who don’t know, are created when your body makes more scar tissues than it needs and leads to the over production of scars and creates a raised scar on your body. Logistics. That’s what I have. With this scar has come many different experiences. When I first revealed it in middle school, kids made fun of it. Not too crazy, but enough that I went out of my way to cover it up. From big necklaces to razor back tank tops worn backward so they would go up high enough to constantly being in t-shirts. I hid it any way I could for about six years. Kids are dicks (except my son of course…because that’s what good mothers say).
I’m not here to focus on that, because I wish I hadn’t waited so long to just stop trying to hide it. In 8th grade, I wore a t-shirt the entire time at a pool party because I didn’t want it to be seen. Think of all the fun I missed out on. At prom, I searched for hours trying to find a dress that would go high enough to cover my imperfection. Think of all the food I could have been eating. I turned my body in photos and used my arm to cover myself much too often.
For the longest time, when people did notice my scar and ask about it, I would lie. I literally made up about 30 stories on how my scar came about. From saving puppies in burning buildings, to breaking up fights, to accidentally breaking a cup and huge shard of glass stuck into my chest. I lied a lot. I guess I wanted to get in front of any jokes that would possibly come up.
Then, two events have made me decide never to do this again and to no longer hide it.
The first event happened after a day at the pool when a friend and I went to a tire shop. While there, a man came up to me and asked me about my scar. Instinctively, I covered it up while he continued his questions. “My wife just had heart surgery and will not show the scar in public, but I’m going to tell her that today I saw a pretty girl who wasn’t trying to hide her scar. How do you do it?” He asked.
I felt flattered and ashamed, he was giving me too much credit. Instead of living up to the truth and telling him that I constantly hid behind big shirts and necklaces, I told him something along the lines of “Oh this old thing? I forgot it was there. Tell you wife she’s beautiful and she cares more than anyone else in the world will.” The man walked off as my friend turned to me. I read her mind, “how can I say those things to a complete stranger, but not myself”? When she actually said “do you want to got to Whataburger after this?” After that, I gained 10 pounds and vowed to not cover up my scar.
The second event occurred while I was at work. I was a teller while I was in college, part time, when this lady came to my station. She was in a turtle neck and when she came up to me, she gasped. “You have a scar.” She said. A statement. YUP and I have access to all your money, lady, don’t mess with me. I nodded, now use to random comments from strangers. When I finally looked up at her, I notice she was crying.
I handed her a tissue and asked if she was okay. “I am just way too scared to show anyone this.” She said as she pulled down her turtle neck to show me a little scar on her throat. She continued, “But you aren’t worried about showing it. Maybe I’ll try that.”
The conversation went on as such. It left me wondering why I – or we – give a fuck. I understand why people want to hide their scars, I hid mine for years and years, but now in hindsight, why? Everyone has scars. Literally everyone has something that is considered imperfect on their bodies. Everyone you can think of has something. From cellulite, to stretch marks, to wrinkles, to freak kitchen accidents. Why is it considered sexy for men to have scars, but not women? Women shriek at the idea of having a flaw so visible to the outside world.
Yes, I live with my scar on my chest for everyone to see, but does that make me now unattractive? Has that made me scared to sit here and talk about it or show it or wear my bathing suit in public or stress about – nope. Not any more. Not since that sweet husband or that kind woman stressed to me the importance of seeing someone wear their scar loud and proud. Do I still get nervous? Of course, every time I see a small child I know some truth is going to be dropped on me. Every time I see my Grandparents, I know, they will ask me about it. Every time I meet someone knew, I watch as their eyes take about 2 seconds to drop to my chest and wonder what happened. Every time my husband tells me someone is checking me out, I assume it’s because my scar. Do I vocalize it? No. Because when you name the demon, you give them power. Don’t give them that power.
I should caveat this with the fact that I am still in the backseat of the car, probably drooling – I can no longer tell – letting my son chew on my hair. Yet, here I am being an inspiration. If I can – think of all things you, as a functioning member of society, can do.
What I urge you to do now is to use your scars as soulful reminders of the person you were and the person you are now. Without the stretch marks on my breasts, I would not have my baby. Those are signs that I could feed my son. Without the scar on my chin, I would never be able to tell everyone that I didn’t cry when I had stitches from falling at WalMart. Without the scar on my knee, I would not have an opening line to the almost fight I got into with an old woman during recreational soccer. Without the stretch marks on my booty, I would not have this fat ass. Without the scar on my chest, I would not have empowered (at least) two women to let their freak flags fly. I’ll take every outcome and every flaw that comes with them.
We are all human.
Our bodies are products of their environment and are the best opening line to meet new people and friends. Instead of hiding behind clothing and turning towards the best lighting and stressing out about every thing we do that could possibly show our insecurities, why not embrace them? Why not show the world? By showing the world, I hope that it is slowly muffling the sounds of criticism and FaceTunes and filters and haters. I hope that my actions take on a little ripple of hope that the world goes on. That I still have lived a (relatively) successful life. I have chosen to not let my scars, both physical and emotional, make me into a person I am not proud to be. My scar is only part of me and it is a part I am no longer willing to hide.
I hope you let you scars shape you, but not become you.
Sorry, no cheese reference, too hungover – I’ll do better next time.