When I visited my daughter last month, she showed me her ankles and complained about all the bug bites that have turned into scars. She unfortunately has quite a few on her ankles, but when I looked at them, all I could think was –
I’d rather you do things and risk scars than do nothing and look perfect
I’ve felt that way my whole life. My mother despaired of my sister ever wearing skirts because of all the scars on her knees from falling in the gravel when she was running. I’d look at the latest set of cuts and think, “at least you were doing something”.
Women complain about how how their bodies scar and sag after having babies. Well ya’ know, I think that’s pretty darn normal. It’s a sign of beauty, not something to obsess about because of Hollywood’s unrealistic expectations of how a woman should look just weeks after giving birth.
My daughter has scars on her ankles because she’s out in the yard every morning and evening taking care of her dogs. The flies, mosquitoes, chiggers, and fire ants have all chomped her at some point. She’s in the yard because she’s a successful and well-regarded breeder of Italian mastiffs, a business she started from scratch. She grew it on her own, learning along the way. It wasn’t something her Dad or I showed her how to do. She works all day with computers and all night taking care of her big babies.
When she isn’t working with the dogs, she’s taking care of the old farmhouse that she owns. She repairs and maintains it, sometimes with her Dad’s help. She loves puttering around her yard, putting in trees and shrubs, planting a garden, and picking apples, pears and blackberries in her own back yard. She’s not yet needed stitches for hurting herself, thankfully, but she’s had the usual aches and bruises that comes with being active.
I have my own scars from being a real woman. Some have faded with time, like the scar from my C-section and the severe burn I got from oven a few years back. The two on my face are still noticeable (from splitting my head open as a child and from a skin infection I contracted after travelling).
I don’t have the scars she does, mostly because I haven’t done the things she has. I’ve had a good life, but I envy that she’s had more of a life than I did. At her age, I was establishing my career and struggling to be a full-time employee with a small child. My scars weren’t from doing things, it was from wondering if life would always be so stressful (yes), that I’d never have time to myself (somewhat improved), and how to raise this child when I was so busy and tired all the time. My favorite boy toy was still in the workplace and found his life as limiting as I found mine.
The purpose of this post isn’t to talk about the scars inside of us. It’s to remind myself and everyone else that the scars we see – the imperfections that result from living our lives – like the Velveteen Rabbit, are part of what makes us real. Real lives, real scars.
In a world that is so fast to judge on superficial appearances, it’s no surprise that I go against the flow and find it to be much more genuine when real women have real bodies, complete with scars. It would be nice if we could all look flawless, but that’s just not how it works, as my self-portrait above shows :)