This weekend I did what the average teenager does over the weekend. I went to a surprise 18th birthday party for a friend of mine, and then the next day I went shopping for a prom dress with my friends. While I enjoyed being able to enjoy the ”normal” teen life, there was an incident that happened that I’d like to share with you all. At the birthday party, I was sitting with a group of girls – there were 4 in all with myself included. The conversation was going well and we were all laughing about some joke someone had said when a girl in the group – we will call her “Not-So-Sensitive-Girl” A.K.A. “NSSG” – asked me a personal question. “Becca do you wear push up bras?” asked the NSSG. I thought this question was a bit awkward to be asking period, let alone at a party, with other people listening. Blushing, I responded with
“I don’t really know. . . I guess I have one or two . . . why?”
NSSG nodded a bit at my response; supposedly happy with my reply. But then she commented:
“So you don’t mind drawing attention to your scar?”
I have had people ask me questions about my scar (that I have gotten from having open heart surgery to try and correct a heart defect that I was born with) all the time. ‘How did you get that?’ ‘Does it hurt if I touch it?’ ‘Will it get better?’ Or even the occasional ‘Can I touch it?!’ But I have never had someone ask me if I was comfortable with “drawing” attention to it. NSSG pointed to her own chest and drew a line with her finger; clearly indicating where the scar on my body is (in case I didn’t know!) and kind of chuckled at her un-sensitive question.
First off, let me say; I have never had to draw attention to my scar. It draws attention all on its own! Secondly, I know where the scar is on my body; thank you very much. And thirdly, I consider myself someone who can laugh at themselves. I will make fun of myself; I will even make fun of my own voice (that is deeper and raspier than most girls) and sing horrifically on purpose. But there are some “jokes” that you should never ever say to someone. So what did I say to NSSG? I chuckled and just shrugged before replying:
“Well at least with my scar I can assume that guys are just looking at my scar instead of being pervs and looking someplace else.”
This got a good laugh out of the group of girls, including the NSSG. But I really wanted to say: “Why would I mind drawing attention to it? I’m not ashamed of it. It’s part of who I am. It saved my life.” But instead of confrontation I decided to just brush it off.
I still don’t understand why people say the things they say. Maybe they aren’t thinking before they speak. I’m not sure, but I do know that I want people to realize that words; even if you don’t mean them in a rude or nasty way, they can and do hurt people. And they do make people feel uncomfortable and sometimes even ashamed of not only themselves but their own body.
While I would be the first person to say ‘Oh she didn’t mean any harm by it and she just wasn’t thinking before she spoke’, I don’t think this was the case with NSSG. She and I have had a few problems in the past week or so (I will not go into specifics), so I can’t help but think that perhaps this girl was trying to hurt me. Trying to get some type of negative reaction out of me.
But she didn’t. And she won’t, and neither will anyone else who tries to verbally assault me about my health, how my voice sounds and how my body looks. I have fought to live and the scars on my body are literally battle scars that I have gotten during my fight for life.
Sometimes, I don’t like how my body looks. There are times when I wear a bathing suit in public and I can’t help but feel insecure when I look at all the girls who have chests without a bright pink scar going down the middle. But I have grown to accept my scar and how my body looks. It has taken me a while to get to where I am today. Do I like my scar? Heck no. But I am glad I have it, because it
means I am alive.
My mom has always told me: “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” And growing up it was always hard to really think good thoughts about myself, especially with the media and our society pushing it on girls that they have to look a certain way. But now that I am older, I can finally see that I am a pretty girl, both inside and out, and yes even with my bright pink, bumpy scar. I am much more concerned, however, with who I am on the inside and I think if people focused more on that, this world would be a way better place.
To the people out there who have something that they dislike about themselves physically (and let’s face it, everyone does!), you are beautiful. Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you otherwise. If I can look at myself in the mirror every morning and smile to myself and feel confident wearing a low cut shirt to a school filled with narrow-minded, harsh and judging kids, then you can feel confident with
When I came home and told this story to my mom, she told that I should share it with you all. She said it would be good to spread awareness about being sensitive towards others and what he/she are going thru. While I completely understand five year olds
coming up and pointing to my scar and saying ‘Wow that’s weird looking’, I don’t think its appropriate for people over the age of eight to be saying that to people about their physical appearance. So parents, please teach you kids about sensitivity towards others. And to the adults who are reading this, please remember to exercise sensitivity in your daily life.
I’d like to ask you guys to share your story/stories about a time when perhaps someone was not sensitive to you or someone you know about his/her physical appearance. How did you handle it? What did you say to them? How did it effect you?
We Are All Beautiful,
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
Becca ~ this is such a great story. You handled this situation with such GRACE! Good for you. I was 49 when I got my scar and when I first saw it… it was very difficult for me. I am 55 now, and I’ve had many more surgeries and have grown to accept this body of mine. You my dear girl have taught me more with this story then all the years of dealing with it on my own. THANK YOU!!! You are truly and inspiration for us all living with the scars and for those people who may need a little sensitivity training
Wow, Becca, this was a great story and I am certain it will help everyone who reads it. If not in their own personal trials, it will surely help them be supportive of someone they know who experiences what you, and many of us, have. There is much to be said about scars, and those of us who wear them know best how it feels to have them and what they represent to each of us.
I am a Veteran of the US Army. While serving, I was given a few medals to be worn upon my chest, that represent various awards for tasks I had completed and times where my service was considered commendable and worthy of special recognition. Now that I am out of the service, I no longer wear those medals, yet can recall in a moment, all the accomplishments I had acheived to be awarded them. I look at the scars I have in a very similar way.. And I have 37 of them ranging from a gunshot wound, to vascular excision, to a great big scar down the back of my head and upper neck from just SURVIVING brain surgery just over 6 months ago. I could cower, I could cover, I could tell people not to look upon my scars in judgement, but instead, I wear my scars as proudly as I wore those ribbons and for this reason..
Our scars are reminders of the fight that lies within us, the strength and courage to face the difficult situations our health can place us in at various times in our lives. But, we have dug so deep and fought so hard such that all that remains of our major illnesses, injuries and trials of life are the bright pink, silly looking, bumpy, right down the center of our chest, right up the back of our head, scattered all over our legs, arms or torso reminders that each of us who wear them have SURVIVED, CONCQUERED, BEATEN THE ODDS and WON. They are like the ribbons/medals the Military gives and we should all wear them with like pride.
Those that riducule, question beyond what is reasonable, or with the intent to hurt your feelings, unfortunately have the scars that I am most fearful of, as they exist on the inside where it is harder to identify, extract, provide support for and heal. The lack of compassion, understanding and acceptance, to me are illnesses, that unless treated, never heal and the scars from them never fade.. So, for those who refuse to acknowledge this about themselves, we who recognize, rationalize and wear our scars with pride, can only pray for them. It is the best way to declare and defend our inner strengths for what we have endured.. Becca, keep Fighting Like A Girl, you’re on the path to becoming a very sound and respectable woman! Keep wearing that scar with pride!
What a great story!! Thanks for sharing it. I think sometimes people need to talk about others and what they perceive as their shortcomings to make themselves look or feel better. They try to pick out faults instead of seeing the whole package. I see your whole package instead; the killer smile, the pretty hair, the great complexion, the beautiful face, and how you rock that dress!! Your one awesome young lady!!
Awesome Becca! I wonder how it will be for my little girl, Honor. She is2 and has retinoblastoma. She lost her right eye and has a medi-port in. I figure you never know. She could grow up to be sensitive and not want anyone to know…or she may think it’s great fun to stick her eye in your water glass. We have had a lot of people,kids, and adults say some weird things. For awhile she had 1 eye, no hair and the big port sticking out. Smaller kids I understand don’t know any better. The adults however sometimes irk me. I get for some it doesn’t compute..after all babies don’t get cancer right?? I would rather people ask than speculate though. Had one guy ask if she got bit by a dog. We were in the lab that day and I was feeling a little stressed. I replied, “Yup sure did, and it scared her so bad all her hair fell out too!!”
I would reply to all personally, but I am SO busy! I just want to thank you all for all the wonderful comments you have left on my story. All the words of encouragement mean so much to me and I am very grateful for all of them! I want you all to know that if any of you want to get in touch with me to talk, you can e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to follow me on my blog at: http://www.lifeasachronicallyillteen.blogspot.com