Meet: My Scars

There was a time I looked down at the scars on my thighs and beamed with pride, as any child with a scar. The scars cut through the muscle to create indentations, one broad horizontal stroke on each leg midway between the knee and hip.

I loved summertime because I could wear swimsuits and show off the scars. I could wear shorts and when I sat Indian-style with bent legs, the scars cut deeper and were more evident. People asked, “What is that?” And I loved to tell them, “Scars from when I was in the hospital as a baby. I got so many shots in my legs that there’s no muscle

Leonardo da Vinci's rendering of the human leg

Leonardo da Vinci’s rendering of the human leg

there anymore.” Sometimes I wished the story was more compelling–a stabbing, maybe, or a car accident. But the fact that the scars were even there, that I was lucky enough to have them, was enough.

I’m not sure when it changed—maybe after reading a certain number of fashion magazines; maybe it was the eleventh time a friend complained about her butt; maybe it was the third time I heard about someone, “She’d be prettier if she lost some weight.” Maybe it was just the normal transition from prepubescent confidence to pubescent self-consciousness.

Then the scar on each leg marked a line. Below the scar my leg was slender and muscular. Above the scar my leg was flabbier and the flesh sat heavier upon it. The scar became a demarcation between what my leg could look like if it wasn’t there, and what it did look like. Between good and bad. Desirable and undesirable. There was no gradual upsweep from knee to hip. There was “pretty” and then “ugly.” And cutting right between the two, dividing them, making it impossible for the two to meet, were my scars. I lost ownership of them.

For another essay on physical scars, read father and Iraq War veteran Sean Davis’ piece, “Skin as a Road Map” HERE.





12 thoughts on “Meet: My Scars

  1. Look at them as a road map of your life. I have a scar that leaves numbness behind it. It’s where my two babies came out! I also have one on my lip from when I was 5. It’s tiny but it’s still there and it’s a great story that I can hold over the head of my big sister for causing it! Never gets old!! I love your scars too Jess because like your mom said, if they weren’t there we wouldn’t have you!! 🙂

    • Aw, thanks Wendy. Yes, I’ve come back around to appreciate them, for sure. I still wish I could see what my legs would look like without them, but I realize how important they are.

    • Thanks, Hallie. It’s true–I’ve come to appreciate them for what they represent. I seem to have come full circle–I was smart when I was a child, then I got pretty un-smart, then smartened up again as I’ve gotten older.

  2. Pingback: Storytellers « True STORIES.

  3. I’m late to this post — but I love it and can really relate. I had melanoma about 4 years ago, and the surgery left a three inch scar on my arm. For a long time it was hard for me to even look at it let alone wear short sleeves but now I like looking at it, realizing it saved my life! And I know just what you mean about wishing the story were more compelling — I’ve often considered telling people I was in a knife fight when they ask about the scar 🙂 Great post!

  4. I’m not sure how I missed this post, and it’s a real shame because I enjoyed it. I have so many little scars, but certainly nothing life-saving. I’m glad you have them, and can appreciate what they mean, Jessica. Mostly, I’m just glad you wrote this. 🙂

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