I know that some people really struggle with scars, so before I launch into my ode to scars (because I really love them) I just want to take a moment to remember that for some people scars mark moments of pain, suffering and darkness and cause much distress. But I hope I might offer a different view.
I’m covered in them. You don’t have open heart surgery in the 1970s without getting a good one. And I seem to have collected many along the way. Let’s have a look at mine.
1) My heart scar
This one is hard to show because it starts in the middle of my chest, goes down through my boobs and ends about 8cm above my belly button, so I’m not putting a photo of it in its entirety on the internet. But the photo above shows the bit that most people see – the bit on my actual chest.
I honestly love this scar. I always have. My parents always referred to it as my ‘zip’ and made it clear that I owed my life to this scar and that I should be grateful for it. I have always loved how it made me different. I love how it goes brown in the summer. I actually don’t notice it at all any more and so when people ask, as they do sometimes, I’m always quite surprised they noticed. I also like how it gives me a little more cleavage – I need all the help I can get. My husband has never really mentioned it. When asked, he said he never really noticed it. But I love it. I would never choose to be without it.
2) Tube scars
I also have these odd little scars below my main one that come from having tubes in me during surgery. I like these ones too.
3) My side scar
As a young teenager I had some kind of fatty lump under a mole that started giving me some pain, so they removed it. I was then allergic to the plaster they used and it burned my skin badly, which is why I think it turned out so badly. I love how soft this scar-skin is.
4) My knee and ankle scars
Back in 2008 I broke my leg skiing. I had surgery in France which was great fun, actually, as I speak French. They hammered a pole down my tibia and screwed my fibula back. So I got three great scars out of this. I actually tried scratching the little one on my knee because when it was mending it looked like a pirate scar and I wanted to keep it, but it faded very well.
You also get to see my darling ginger cat in this photo, so it’s a particularly good shot!
5) My C-Section scar
Won’t show you this one as it’s ‘down below’ but it was neat and healed really well.I think I must have good healing skin, actually. I love this one for the obvious reasons. The Dude was stuck and couldn’t get out. We’d been in labour for 38 hours before they gave me a Cesarian, I suspect we were both delighted! If I didn’t have this scar, if Cesarians hadn’t been an option, both I and the little man I adore would probably have died. This scar gave him life and gave me the most amazing gift ever. How can I do anything but love it?
I struggle to love the ‘overhang’ of flab that the scar causes. Got to be honest.
So those are my scars. I’ve done a lot of thinking about scars because they are such a part of who I am. I really do love scars because they tell a story. They show my life story, written on my body. They show what I’ve been through, what I’ve survived, what has made me the girl I am. Heart surgery, a determined recovery from a broken leg so I could go cycle touring four months later, a 38 hour labour and a caesarean delivery. They show how strong I am.
I remember as a student I was in Paris, on the metro, by myself and I saw this amazing woman. She was in her late twenties maybe, elegant as only a Parisian could be and with a very handsome, elegant man. And when she turned round, she had a long, angry scar on one side of her face. I have never forgotten her. That scar made her memorable. I don’t know how she felt about her scar – I think scars on faces would be much harder to accept, come to terms with and maybe love than scars on more hidden parts of our bodies. But I thought how beautiful she was with her scar as well as without it.
The Japanese sometimes repair a cracked vase by mending it and then painting the crack with gold paint. They celebrate cracks. They make scars beautiful. We should celebrate our scars – they make us beautiful.