As a person who has had several surgeries and other conditions that have left me with scars on my body, I was pondering why society has programmed us to feel ashamed of our scars and told us that we need to “fix” them.
The conclusion I reached? We have been programmed to see any scar or flaw on our skin as ugly and abnormal—not beautiful as defined in media.
We have been taught to seek out solutions to remove or greatly diminish the appearance of these unacceptable scars through any means necessary—plastic surgery, laser therapy, scar gel, stretch mark creams—that we must “fix” our scars in order to fit in.
What if we could look at scars differently — see them from a different, more positive perspective? This would certainly be a challenge to the ideals that have been programmed into us through media.
What if we looked at scars/disfigurations as signs of strength and perseverance for those who have been through fires, accidents, or surgery—as a symbol of an individual’s strength and ability to make it through a difficult and trying time?
What about stretch marks from childbirth? Wouldn’t it be great if we looked at stretch marks post-pregnancy as a “beauty” mark given to women by their child?
As Demi Lovato said, “I think scars are like battle wounds — beautiful, in a way. They show what you’ve been through and how strong you are for coming out of it.”
Yes, having scars/disfigurations means that we are not “perfect,” but scars do not affect who we are on the inside, nor are we supposed to be perfect or flawless.
Scars and disfigurations do not define us. We should not feel ashamed to wear shorts or a bathing suit in the summer, or for those who have more disfiguring scars, to be in public.
For those who have scars, remember that they are a part of who we are and should be accepted as such. They are beautiful in their own way. In terms of my own scars, “I am not ashamed of my scars; I am ashamed of the world for not understanding.”
My challenge to you is this: Next time you see someone with scars, burns, or other disfigurements, instead of thinking of them as “abnormal” or ugly, try reflecting on the possible strength and beauty behind those scars.
See their scars as beautiful, not something that must be “fixed.” For that matter, try looking at your own scars that way as well.
Katelin Jordan is a university graduate with a Bachelors Degree in General Studies, with concentrations in Sociology and Communications. She currently works as a clinical research assistant at the VA Healthcare System and as a research assistant intern at one of the top university’s in the U.S. She is the proud pet-parent of her two year-old Manx-shorthair mix cats, Chocolate Chip and Oreo.
My body collects scars from everything from softball mishaps to Colombian bug bites to tumbling down Vietnamese pagoda steps. Love celebrating their stories.
I think about this a lot as I have facial acne scars from acne and from dermatillomania. I really wish that I could have this attitude about them, but as someone whose face may some day look like Edward James Olmos’ it’s hard to get there sometimes. (I love EJO by the way but it’s harder for women, I think. We’re expected to always be beautiful.)
I have struggled with self harm and have been called “mutilated” “scary” and “creepy”. I have had a minor eating disorder which makes it even harder for me to love myself. Thank you, Katelin, for making me feel hopeful.