The first comment I ever heard about my scar was from a nurse who, on pulling back the scratchy blue blanket on my hospital bed, exclaimed, “Oh! They’ve done it neatly.”
“Oh, good!” I replied, a little alarmed. In the catalog of surgical scars, surely neatness is to be expected? Take a little extra time, dear surgeon, no need to hurry—I’m out for the count!—but please, just make it look ok?
I couldn’t actually bring myself to look for a week, terrified, but when I did, I grinned.
A delicate scythe mark of pale pinks and purples, raised ever so gently and shining with newness, passed from my pubic bone up over the side of my stomach, ending parallel with my tummy button. An arc of redemption, marking the end of a challenging year on dialysis. Both it and I glowed.
Then a nurse wandered up and said, “You’ll have to stop wearing bikinis now, love, swimsuits for you.”
I frowned. “Absolutely not?”
Instead, I fully intended on wearing tiny string bikinis and crop tops with 90s low rise jeans, shimmying down the street matching any curious stares with proud, defiant ones of my own.
“Oh, this? Are you talking about the stunning, shining scar on my incredible, unstoppable bod, babes?”
I absolutely intended to. I did. Really, I did. So much so that part of me believes that this actually happened. But looking back, a sobering realization hits: it didn’t.
That next summer, I bought a super high-rise bikini. I told myself it was because it just looked really cool, not because it had anything to do with the scar I didn’t want people looking at or asking me about. I felt shame when the guy I went on to date brought up the subject of scars early on, and I have never bought a crop top since.
True, this last one may be because I’m no longer 19, but what if I wanted to bear my midriff? Would I feel like I couldn’t because folk would stare at my scar, deeming it, and me (we come as a package now) undesirable?
This led me to wonder whose body’s scars are most often considered acceptable. It seems to me that they imbue masculine bodies with a certain power and sexiness, or so we’re told in film and the media. Meanwhile, the narrative for feminine bodies repeatedly tends to be that they are accepted through self-love. She was so brave for showing it.
Perhaps this is because, in ancient stereotypical male terms, scars embody bravery and hardiness along the lines of I was just wrestling a bear. Who wrestles bears now anyway, though? Leave them alone? And what about the strength it takes to deliver a baby through C-section? Or overcome mental illness? Or be landed with a physical health issue?
Well, enough is enough.
Scars are sexy, folks, and I’m here to tell you (and repeatedly remind myself) why: They are emblematic of being alive.
Life comforts, strokes, seduces, loves us, just as easily as it bruises, dents, cuts, and scars. In the wild flux of existence, joyful things happen, disastrous things happen, things happen; hell, who doesn’t come out with a scar or two. But what they show us is that our bodies are there for us, literally holding us down throughout the journey. These marks are a testament to our fragility, our strength, our survival.
What’s sexier than that?
Scars should be sexy on anyone. Beautiful, unique, and characterful, they are part of who we are, and frankly, no-one can tell me my scar isn’t stunning. Something to be celebrated, not shunned; worn with pride, not covered up. Although I’m still yet to buy a crop top.
It’s time to blare out Destiny’s Child’s I’m a Survivor and have a dance party in honor of just that, surviving, and love up every inch of your dazzling body that has carried you this far.