I had an ex-boyfriend who was a marine, and he used to tell me that during training they got hurt often but they’d tell each other that “chicks dig scars”. I always wondered if that was the same for us girls. Do guys dig scars on girls? Do they cringe when they notice that darker pigmentation on your legs, or the stitch marks on your stomach, the line on your back. Most certainly, ideally you don’t want to care what a person thinks of your body, but I don’t pretend like it doesn’t cross my mind. Honesty should be paramount in our quest to master self-compassion.
And so I have to tell you that I hate my scars. I hate that my legs don’t look like those in shaving cream commercials with nary a scar in sight, looking like they have never done anything reckless with their bodies like I have. I hate my scars, but I am learning to love the stories in those imperfections. All the circumstances in which I earned those lines on my skin canvas.
I am remembering the scar on my leg where our neighbor’s dog bit me. Because it reminds me that I was in his back yard, hanging our family’s washed clothes to be dried by the dances of the wind. Because it reminds me that back home, we have a sharing culture that allows us to dry our clothes in the neighbor’s backyard and also have him take care of my wounds when the dog sunk his teeth in my leg.
I am remembering the scar on my thigh when I was using a blade to cut the outline of a giant Santa Claus drawing my mom made when she was a kindergarten teacher. That is one of my earliest memories of marveling at the wonder that is my mother. To be in such admiration of her that I wanted to help with her work in hopes that I get some of her greatness sprinkled on me.
I am remembering the scars I got when I was beginning to seriously do yoga. After years of self-abuse yoga became my healing space so I did it almost everyday. I once hit my leg on the table while practicing handstands in the living room. That served as a reminder that I am brave, but I must be patient and kind with my body. It served as a reminder to allow myself to be adventurous, let the failures happen and push through to see how life excitedly unfolds itself to you.
I am also remembering
scars from transgender folks. The courage it takes to live authentically, to live in their bodies on their terms despite the fact that it puts them at risk for violence everyday.
Scars from survivors of breast cancer like my mother, reminders of their resilience.
Scars from survivors of war; both soldiers and civilians. They’ve walked through hell and still they are here, working hard to rebuild a life of joy and fulfillment.
Scars are ugly. And we don’t need to pretend like we see beauty in them, if we don’t feel like it. Allow yourself to not like your scars if you don’t want to, or love them if you are able to. But do learn to adore your survival, your resilience, your adventures, your courage. Aesthetic appeal is too one-dimensional a story to give your scars. You’re so much more complex than that. Scars are a reminder of a life boldly lived.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.