When I was much younger, women didn’t talk about their scars. They went to great lengths to hide them from the world. For the love of Cheetos, if you had stretch marks, you kept the evidence on lockdown. The shame ran deep.
Suddenly, something changed, and women started talking about their scars. It was a glorious day when women declared their independence from humiliation and exposed those scars. Stretch marks became their tiger stripes and evidence of babies once in their bellies.
I was skeptical until I saw some male weightlifters with stretch marks on their arms and shoulders. It was then that I began to realize that people’s skin stretches at different rates. So either your skin is forgiving, or it is not. So accept what nature gave you and move on.
In no way is my skin forgiving except on my face. I’ve been pretty lucky to maintain a scar-free face, but the rest of me is not so lucky. I bruise easily, and they last for a long time. My skin has zero elasticity, so tiger stripes were unavoidable. Also, I am like a magnet to burns on my arms and hands.
Ninety-nine percent of my burns come from my not-so-illustrious cooking career (1% from ironing). If I had ever entertained the idea of becoming a chef in my lifetime, I would have been dead within my first year of schooling from burns and knife wounds.
At this point, my hands and arms are a roadmap of my culinary failures. I have the Garlic Bread Burn of 1998 (top of left hand), the Chocolate Chip Cookie Burn of 2002 (lower left quadrant of the forearm), and the Oven-Fried Chicken Burn of 2011(2nd-degree burn on right hand), to name a few.
The fact that I still have all my fingers from the knife cuts I’ve sustained is a miracle. One look at my fingers, and you’d think I was part of a Lady Gang. Down here in the south, we say, “Bless Your Heart,” before we shank you.
Then there was the Fractured Tibia of 2020 because the pandemic alone was not enough stress for me. So now I have a chunk out of my right calf that looks like Jaws vigorously nibbled on me. And that scar is a stunner.
So I’m trying very hard to reconcile with my scars. I’m not sure I’m ready to admit to the events that resulted in the scars, but I’m thinking about shelving the shame. After all, our scars are our stories.
And I’m sticking with Southern Lady Gang Member who swims with sharks if you don’t mind.
What’s your story?