For most of us, the word ‘scar’ conjures up negative emotions. They’re ugly, they look weird, and they usually are a result of some sort of pain or injury. It’s also the name of bad guy in The Lion King. We’re constantly looking for a solution to fade them, or make them disappear. That being said, I think we’re a little too hard on our scars.
Growing up, I was extremely active. I played outside every day, spending time riding my bike, racing with my friends, climbing the jungle gym, and more. As a result, I had my fair share of scrapes and bruises. I was also a magnet to bugs, so my legs were constantly covered in bites. At one ballet recital, my mom told me she could identify me right away because of my mosquito-bitten legs.
This never really bothered me until I made a new friend, Ellen*, who’s skin was as smooth and clear as a (clean) baby’s bottom. She literally did not have one single freckle, birthmark, mole, let alone a scar. I would stare jealously at her arms for far longer than is socially acceptable and would marvel at how her legs were virtually bug-bite free. After a few weeks of being friends, however, I discovered how she had remained so unblemished. Her mother was extremely strict and forbade Ellen from playing in the sun. All of our play time was indoors, and she spent her free time either in piano classes or extra math lessons. She got notes to skip P.E., because her mom was afraid she’d get scraped up, or worse, sunburned.
Don’t get me wrong, sun protection is extremely important! But it’s not worth giving up life experiences to remain freckle-free. I stopped being jealous of Ellen, because she’d never gotten the chance to get dirty. She’d never made sandcastles in the sand pit, played tag, built a fort in the woods, played softball, nothing. I became proud of my marks - they signified that I was having fun! I’m still trying to fade some of my acne scars because those don’t necessarily represent a life well-lived, but that scar on my ankle from a motorcycle burn in Vietnam? Love it. I’d never sit in a tanning bed, but I will get on a friends boat and enjoy the ride. I’ll just make sure to bring SPF50 and some Band-Aids, just in case.
*names have been changed