On Embracing Scars



A Royal wedding dress reveal is often a rather exciting moment for most fashion enthusiasts, but for me seeing the photographs of Princess Eugenie in her stunning Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos gown felt extra special. 



From a fashion perspective it was wonderful to see a British label given such a platform (talking of which she also wore Charlotte Olympia shoes for the occasion.) There's no doubt it was a beautiful dress - the full skirt, the folded neckline - but to see the long, thin scar, a result of spinal surgery for scoliosis, pointedly peeking out from the deep V back showed the power of dress and meant that for me it was far more than a moment for fashion. It was a moment of empowerment for everyone else with similar surgical souvenirs. 

You see I too bear that same scar, as I had the exact same operation aged 14. They straightened my twisty spine and fixed it in place with twelve bolts and two titanium rods and after a painful, but thankfully brief recovery, off I went to enjoy life all straight and proper. If it wasn't for the scar that snakes up the entire length of my spine to be honest I'd quite forget I had it done, especially taking into account lung transplantation surgery almost 10 years later.

Which brings me on to the scars from that. We have the obvious one that goes from side to side across my chest where the surgery was performed. I have two scars on each side of my ribs where chest drains were inserted (one looks a bit like a star which I'm quite fond of.) Alongside the one where they put a tracheostomy (breathing tube) in, I have the ones on my neck caused by ECMO (a big life support machine with equally big tubes) and then two scars on my legs where they had to put ECMO in there after the neck one didn't work. There's the one where I had a feeding tube in my stomach and more in my neck and on my side where a port sits under my skin, as well as various scars from all the cannulas, blood tests and whatnot from over the years - there's a lot going on, sure. 

Of course I knew I'd have scars but seeing as there were no mirrors in hospital I was quite unaware of just how much my body had changed. It wasn't until I was getting dressed in my bedroom and caught my reflection in the full length mirrors of my wardrobe doors that I was confronted with this new, stark reality. It was shocking to me, to see the full extent of what my body had been through - it looked so violent, I didn't recognise myself. To be frank, I felt grotesque. Perhaps not the right thing to think after almost dying, but that's how I felt at the time. 

However, after the initial shock had worn off I began to see them as a sign of power and strength. They were a mark of all that I'd been through, a tribute to the magic of medical science and a specific reminder of the type of surgery I'd had that saved my life. Incredible things! Beautiful meanings!

Time has faded my scars and most are hidden by my clothes. They're not totally on show here either mainly because the most obvious ones are in awky places but they're there nonetheless, attached to stories that are a part of what makes me, me. Perhaps it's my love of a good novel, maybe it's the history geek in me or narcissist, depending on your view, that revels in the idea of a narrative being revealed through the strange marks on my skin. They still cause me occasional pain due to scar tissue and other parts are completely numb years later so they're not without problems. However much I think they should be normalised and without wanting glamorise them, I firmly believe we should be proud of our scars - from the ones from major surgical procedures to the little burns that nipped the back of your hands grabbing a pizza out the oven, they're a reflection of our lives rather than the airbrushed, flawless bodies traditional and social media bombard us with. 

So to see Princess Eugenie showing her scar on what was probably the most public day of her life was empowering to see - a small but mighty gesture. From the numerous tweets I saw that day to the excitable message I got from a fellow lady who's had scoliosis corrective surgery ('We are matching!') I know for sure I wasn't the only one moved by it. 



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