Kate Spade heart crossbody
The other day, I mentioned that when I wear my hair in pigtails, space buns, or milkmaid braids, I minimize my scar to make it blend in with my hair a little better. It looks like a big bald spot when parted in the back middle, and with product I make it look more like a regular part. I asked for product recommendations, since I usually default to plain old eyeshadow, and concerned and optimistic but dismissive comments and messages followed, as they often do when I mention even the most minor of insecurities. But in this case, it’s not even an insecurity, because I don’t hate my scar. I was just looking for suggestions on how to minimize it when I don’t want it as a focal point.
I don’t hate my body, but sometimes (okay, most of the time) I like to wear clothes that aren’t conventionally flattering. I don’t hate my face, but I like to wear makeup. I don’t hate my hair color, but I have fun changing it up whenever I want. Let me cover up my scar when I see fit, without projecting this idea that I don’t love myself. I know it usually comes from a place of love, but I promise you that wanting to minimize it — so it’s not the absolute focal point of a certain hairstyle — does not mean I reject my flaws or don’t love myself. And because I’m tired of having to address this ad nauseam, I’ll tell you a story.
I don’t hate my scar. In fact, I love my scar. It was central to the first moment a boy told me he loved me. And though the surgery that gave it to me was a few years prior, my souvenir will always remind me of that day in his room, when I first learned what requited love felt like.
I can barely remember how the conversation started, let alone all the details. What I do remember is this: we were lying near each other and I could barely feel him running his hands through my hair, due to all my nerve damage. He asked what my scar was from, and I blushed as I did when cute boys asked me anything, whether it was “Do we have a test today?” or “Will you go out with me?” I was in the very beginning stages of learning-to-talk-to-boys as a Girl and not just One Of The Dudes (the horror of this sentence, but it’s true to my personal history) and everything made my cheeks flush, a red hot betrayal of the effortlessly cool girl I was desperately trying to be.
I hadn’t given my scar all that much thought since the surgery, just as I barely paid the bald spot and eventual [benign] tumor that caused it any mind, until it grew so rapidly I could no longer ignore it. But I was 15 and felt invincible in my youth, so when the doctor told me I had to immediately go for surgery, all I could say was that I had a concert to go to and I didn’t want to miss it, can we schedule for later in the week? We did, and he further won me over when he said I would finally be able to wear pigtails without any noticeable bald spot. [Side note: I was not. That made me a little angry, because I always wanted to.] This is all my scar meant to me: an embarrassment of a bandaged head with pigtails pulled through the top (he didn’t really break his promise, I guess?), a short time with bright blue stitches all over my head, and a little nerve damage that I quickly learned to live with. And, you know, not getting to wear pigtails without a jagged scar prominently on display.
Truly, that’s all. I thought my scar was kind of cool and I didn’t mind the questions. I told anecdotes of when the doctor sounded slightly panicked because the tumor was blue, and how I realized it was because I used a pen to hold up my hair and the ink leaked all over my scalp, or about when I lurched up right before the surgery while under general anesthesia, vomiting all over my surgeon and postponing the procedure. It didn’t bother me to show and tell — and since it showed a lot, I was used to telling. I’m not entirely sure if it was my true fear and self consciousness bubbling to the top or if it was the side effects of talking to a boy in an intimate moment, but I suspect it was a bit of the former and more of the latter. Though we were “hanging out” for awhile, he was wildly popular with other girls and seemed perfectly content to date the whole city. But that day in his room, flushed and teary eyed as I told him all about my scar, its origins, how I didn’t know why I was getting so upset and I was so embarrassed because effortlessly cool girls don’t cry on their date’s beds, something shifted. And in that very moment he turned to blue haired, red faced, makeup-less, teary eyed, effortlessly disheveled but not-so-cool me and said, “I love you. Will you be my girlfriend?”
That was 15 years ago. I was 18.
We broke up 12 years ago and have loved others for almost as long, and much deeper than we ever did each other. I don’t feel the same way about him that I assumed I’d always feel (and he doesn’t feel that way about me), but I can’t deny the impact of a first love. Lots of people think I’m crazy for staying on good terms with the boys I’ve dated, but I’ve never been one to regret what was once good, even if it ended badly — and I believe every relationship serves its purpose in a personal evolution.
I’ll never forget how I felt that day, lying on his bed, dizzy and drunk on young love and mutual infatuation and never once questioning the distinction of the two. That moment primed me for every romance since, a measure of what Love should feel like when distinguishing between it and like, lust, or convenience.
I don’t hate this jagged scar; I enjoy the memories it carries. You can tell me I shouldn’t cover it up, that I’m beautiful with flaws and all, and that I should accept myself as is, and I’ll thank you and carry on with my desires, because I know that I’m not doing it because of an insecurity. Maybe some people just assume it’s something for me to be insecure about and want to give me words of encouragement, but I’m not insecure about it and I don’t hate my scar.
I just don’t want it to be my only anecdote, because I have so many stories to tell.