Learning to Love Your Scars

 

We all have them. Maybe yours are from acne, weight loss, or even an accident you've been in. In especially unfortunate circumstances, they may come from self-harm. In other cases, they may go beyond the skin, and be left on our minds, hearts, and souls from traumatic events in our lives.

What am I talking about? Scars.

The dictionary tells us that scars are one dimensional. They are injuries to the flesh that may leave permanent discoloration or texture on the skin. However, scars are much more than that. They aren’t talked about often. In fact, our culture has placed a taboo atmosphere around any appearance based imperfections.

I wanted to share my story, so that maybe someone else could learn to love themselves in the way that I have.

To spare the details, at one time in my life, I was much heavier than I am now. Luckily, I found the motivation and strength to change my lifestyle to a healthier one over the span of two years, and I lost a total of 80 pounds. I did it! I was finally the size of a normal girl my age, and I was excited to prance around the beach or pool the following summer. That was, until I began really looking in the mirror.

See, when I was overweight, I avoided mirrors. Truly, I didn’t really know what my body looked like. As I lost weight, it was interesting to study my arms, legs, and the new definition of these limbs. However, one afternoon I began noticing white lines all over my arms, thighs and stomach.

Suddenly, I was at my goal weight, yet I was more ashamed of my body than ever. These white lines, or rather, stretch marks I was left with after my weight loss created more shame than I had ever experienced, even in my days as an uncomfortable-in-all-clothes, overweight teen.

I struggled with them for months, even the first full year of enjoying my new size. I prayed for them to go away, spent hundreds of dollars on creams, scrubs, oils, and wraps only to see those pesky white lines every time I glanced in the mirror. 

Eventually, I accepted that these scars were permanent. An indicator, that yes, I had done damage to my small frame that I could never completely erase. I also began to think that I would never have a boyfriend, or I would never be seen naked by anyone. I didn't want to change in front of friends, and I dreaded being invited to pool, beach, or summer-based events. 

This was a miserable existence. I thought about my stretch marks all of the time. I wondered if others were staring at them when I was out, or if people would think I was disgusting for having them. I hated the skin I lived in.

That was, until I saw a photo, of a woman who also had little white stretch marks. My eyes perked up, and I was eager to know I wasn't the only one. The caption at the bottom read, "Your body is not ruined. You are a God D*mned tiger, who has earned her stripes."

I still can’t say I’ve worn a two-piece to the pool or to the beach. I honestly don’t know if I ever will. I still don’t change in front of people often, and I can’t sport cute crop tops or sheer shirts without feeling on-edge.

I can say, I have accepted the scars I was left with as a sign of my personal feats and victories.

Every day is a small battle. Each scar I have is indicative of another that resides on the inside, where the world can’t always see. Body image is increasingly becoming the largest social issue among the youngest generation of females, leading to depression, eating disorders, and sometimes suicide- some of the things I have dealt with in my personal life. I have learned one thing: this is the one body I will get in this life. I can either hate it each day, and be miserable, or learn to love it, and treat it right. 

So for now, I eat foods that make me happy, dance around in my undies to burn off chips and salsa, and I fall in love with myself a little bit more everyday. 

Why am I sharing an incredibly embarrassing personal photo? Because I want everyone to #LOVEyourscars and I want anyone who has ever felt like I did to know, that you are perfect the way you are. 

These are my stripes....and I'm proud.