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Flaws and All

3 months ago by

Scars are in a beauty no-man’s land. They’re imperfections that aren’t conversation topics (or heavily commercialized) the way wrinkles and grey hairs are. Basically we don’t talk about them, even though they’re universal and come with very personal stories. While very literally they are wounds, they also represent the power and fragility of the human body. They are evidence of a mistake, a life well-lived, a dedication to a craft…they truly make you, you.

We invited Sophie, Jane and Teaunna to the studio, three women who have scars of totally different origins, to talk with us about how they got their scars, how they feel about them and how their relationship with their own bodies were impacted as a result. Oh, and Emily’s pup Fitz makes an appearance – he might not have a scar but he’s cute enough to make the cut!

beauty scars jane coxwell garance dore photo

Jane Coxwell

How did you get your scars?
From work, I’m a chef, so from cooking—from being rushed and from being stressed, and from putting my body second [laughs] to getting a job done well. They’re mostly burns from a stove. Sometimes I’ll have patches on my hands from when I pick up things that have been in the oven, but they don’t always stick because the body is amazing. The ones on my forearm are generally from reaching into an oven.

How often are you aware of them, and what makes you aware of them?
I’m only aware of them in the 24 hours after they happen. Just because burns, for the first 24 hours, as soon as they get warm, they burn. So a hot shower, washing my hands, stuff like that.

Do you have memories of the first scars you got, through your job or before?
Some of my nails are funny from where I’ve sliced them off and they’ve never really grown back. You learn to use your hands as a guide for your knife, and then when you’re in a rush one of the little fingers slips out and you take the front of the nail off. Those are the scars I still have, and those are the first ones.

Do your scars ever affect your perception of yourself?
I’m actually quite often embarrassed of them… if people don’t know what I do for a living but see that I have scars up and down my forearm, I feel like they wonder. I find myself telling people that I’m a chef and I cut myself, because of that. Thinking that they just think that I’m someone with lots of horizontal lines across me, but I know that it’s in my head.

If you could take them back, and live without them, would you?
That’s a good question. I’m going to say no. I don’t even know why. Maybe because it’s kind of like an emotionally attached mark. I do have scar cream but I realized the scar cream was for my tattoo removal! [Laughs] And I’ve never actually put it on a scar! So no, I wouldn’t, and I guess that’s proof of that!

beauty scars jane coxwell garance dore photo
Flaws and All

beauty scars teaunna gray garance dore photo

Teaunna Gray

How did you get your scar?
I was 2 or 3 years old, and was at the mall with my mom, who was a single, teen mom, and my identical twin sister. It was always just the three of us. We were in a mall in Toronto where we’re from, and we were young so we were just running around, learning how to walk, and I ran into a display window. I hit my head on the corner and as my mom was trying to console me, my sister ran off. All these strangers were helping me and trying to find my sister asking, “What does the other one look like?” and my mom was like, “Exactly like this one!” So everyone dispersed in the mall and found her, just playing with shoes. We then went to the hospital so I could get stitches.

Are you aware of your scar? If so, what prompts the awareness?
I’m not aware of it, actually. It’s on my face, right in the middle, top of my body, and I don’t recognize it anymore. I was very insecure about it when I was younger, but that has completely worn off. Growing up I was definitely more aware of it, it wasn’t seen as “regular.” And being an identical twin, it was always the differentiation between us like: “Teaunna has a scar, Teshaunna [my sister] doesn’t.” It’s not that I think it makes me ugly, but I think the stigma of what a scar is – and the fact that they’re so easily perceived as a “flaw” – plays into the awareness and insecurity.

Do you think it changed your perception of beauty or femininity at all? Was it something that you tried to hide with makeup, as you discovered it?
Yeah, when I was younger I had bangs, and I remember a time when I literally tried to cover it with them. And maybe that had to do with the fact that I was a twin, and she didn’t have this identifiable difference. Now I love it, this is me.

And if you could take it back, would you?
I feel like it’s cliche to say “No, this is a part of me,” but I think maybe I would. If I could go back and not have the scar, why not? But if I didn’t ever do that, because I actually can’t, well…screw it.

beauty scars teaunna gray garance dore photo
beauty scars sophie marx garance dore photo

beauty scars sophie marx garance dore photo

Sophie Marx

How and when did you get your scar?
August 7, 2016. It was noon on a beautiful Sunday. I remember it was noon exactly because we were going to leave Montauk at 2pm. I was skateboarding for my 3rd or 4th time, and had already fallen once, skinned my ankle – no big deal. Being stubborn, I decided to try it again. And this fateful time, I was going too fast, something happened, before I knew it I was flying through the air… I fell, I heard a big crack, and I had a double open fracture of my left elbow. I didn’t call an ambulance [laughs] and instead had to endure a 45 minute car ride in excruciating pain. My boyfriend Ben was driving and tried to pull over a police car to get an escort to Southampton hospital which is very hard to get to from Montauk on a Sunday at noon in August. We arrived, and 7 hours later I had emergency surgery which resulted in 15 stitches and 6 inches of metal attached to my ulna.

How often are you aware of it, and what prompts the awareness?
Every day. Because it hurts, because I’m still in physical therapy, I still can’t do many things that I love to do, so I’m constantly aware that I have that scar there. I can’t do yoga, I can’t surf, I can’t carry any more than 10 pounds on that arm. In the beginning when I broke it I couldn’t wash my hair, button up my jeans, little things that you take for granted. So I’m aware of it every day. And then there’s the occasional time like at the gym when someone will point it out and go, “Whoa that’s gnarly!” And it’s like, really? You’re going to point it out? I would never point it out on anybody.

Has it changed your self-perception at all?
I find myself more fragile, but actually have a greater respect for what my body did, and can do, so I think in that way, the fact that I’m so much more careful now, like, going down a dune at the beach to go on a hike, these are things that I’m now very aware of… I’m very careful of how much I can hurt my body, which is not something that I like about the situation. When I get scared of that, I’m that much more motivated to get it stronger, faster.

Does it affect the way you ever dress?
No. I never, never think about it getting dressed. I can’t see it myself—unless I look in the mirror. I can’t really get the full extent. I think I’m getting to a point now where I’m very proud of it, even though what I was doing, it’s not a C-section. It’s not like I went through a battle. I was learning how to skateboard [laughs]. It’s like, a 7-year-old boy injury.

If you could take it back and make it go away, would you?
I don’t think I would take it back. Maybe I have selective memory here, but it’s a memory of a really lovely weekend that I would have wanted to commemorate. Not necessarily with a scar, a picture would have been enough [laughs], but no, I wouldn’t take it back.

Flaws and All

40 comments

Add yours
  • Orizaba March, 29 2017, 9:23 / Reply

    Bravo, j’ai trouvé cet article vraiment intéressant et en relation avec notre vie quotidienne à tous et à toutes.
    Ca fait du bien de sortir un peu du glamour et des photos/articles sur des filles parfaites!

  • This was beautiful! Thank you for highlighting flaws in this story. I love the stories behind each one. They show how strong and fearless each woman is! There is beauty in each one.

  • Merci pour ce article, qui permet d’explorer d’une autre manière notre rapport si complexe au corps. Je vis avec une cicatrice très visible de 40 cm dans le dos. Je ne l’effacerais pour rien au monde, c’est mon histoire écrite sur mon corps. Un corps difforme, en raison d’une grave scoliose, qui m’a complexée toute ma vie, de l’adolescence au momentoù j’ai été opérée, 40 ans plus tard. L’intervention m’a réparée, remise dans mon axe, dans tous les sens du terme, et ça été une expérience très très forte. L’empreinte sinueuse du bistouri est celle de mon parcours, comment ne pas l’aimer?

  • Cool to see a chef! My husband is a chef but no scars yet… fingers crossed.

    -Kirsten // http://www.porkandcookies.com

  • This, I love…flaws/imperfections and our love of them!
    http://brooklynchateau.blogspot.com/

  • Vraiment de belles photos avec des cicatrices, des cernes, des rides. La beauté de la vraie vie! Merci.

  • Roelien March, 29 2017, 1:13 / Reply

    These scars are not too bad, as flaws and scars go. I suppose having a hurting arm is worse than having a scar to show for it.
    Lovely pup!

    I wonder: has Erik left the studio? I’ve noticed his absence and some new photographer names.

  • this is so interesting. appreciate it. i have scars over the tops of my feet from a huge pot of boiling water falling on them. it was a slow healing and recovery. i find i am self-conscious about them – tend to wear shoes/sandals to somewhat cover the scars. actually, they healed quite well – but the process was frightening and yes, i agree – i’m a bit more careful with my body now – i realize the fragility.
    thank you again – wonderful column.

  • I love this post. It’s sensitive and real and liberating. Thank you.
    I can relate because I have a big scar inside my left knee, from a third grade,
    walking home from school, near fatal mishap.
    14 stitches. And it was greenish and purple for years.
    It has become part of me now, and I love it.
    Just an outward sign of being alive, and surviving life’s
    twists and turns. Funny that the topic of scars can lead to
    joyful self-acceptance.

  • merci pour cet article!
    très touchant!
    j’ai moi même une grande cicatrice sur la cheville, suite une une triple fracture. Cela a totalement bouleversé mon corps. plus de trois ans après, il y a encore plein de geste que je ne peux pas faire… mais on s’habitue.
    Cela a totalement transformé aussi ma façon de m’habiller.. j’adorais mes chevilles, plutôt fines mais impossible d’exposer au soleil ou de mettre en avant cette partie du corps désormais. Fini aussi les talons! :)

  • I appreciate your postings and always done in a beautiful way!
    I wish there was more of a focus on the heart , soul , compassion and care of what women are doing in the world and not so much on how they look – what noted imperfections one may have, what make up or beauty products they use. Now is a crucial time when young women need positive role models that go well beyond their physical appearance .
    Another thought- many scars are not visible to the human eye for they are internal . How lovely if you could find women willing to share how they overcame adversity .

  • Kirsten March, 29 2017, 3:22 / Reply

    I saw the opening picture of Jane and immediately thought – now those are a chef’s arms. They look just like mine!

  • I adore this. Anyone else notice how beautifully Teaunna’s scar aligns with her nose ring? Looks so beautiful and completely unique. I have a two small scars from stumbles and a cesarian scar, which bore both my children. People ask me all the time if I’m bothered by that scar – my cesarian was not elected, it was enforced due to other complications, and really not ever once did I worry about the scar, I worried about my babies being born safely. But it’s not really visible to others – so it’s interesting to read about those who have very visible scars. I’ve had those feelings Sophie did when I had a major spinal injury – it’s life changing. And she words it perfectly.
    Cute pup too.

  • Voila…enfin de vrais gens,la vrai vie,on sort du tout parfait ou,meme si c’est tres joli,tout est trop lisse,souvent les articles nous decomplexent mais les photos qui les accompagnent sont a l’oppose des props tenus.
    On en veut plus,encore et encore.
    Merci.

  • I have one long scar along my outer right thigh, one right up my groin and one scar across my neck along with multiple small scars across my legs and stomach. For me they are reminders of just how well the body heals itself and the fact that I have fought cancer off three times (so far). I am more concious when my eczema flares up or I have a bad hair day than of my scars. Many people carry scars both physical and invisible and to me they signify our strength and determination and make us unique not different they should never be something to be ashamed of.

  • Enfin un article qui me (nous) parle, on est dans la vraie vie ! J’aime les photos, surtout la premiere a laquelle beaucoup d’entre nous peuvent s’identifier : cicatrices, rides, etc….
    Mes cicatrices, deux d’entre elles acquises a un tres jeune age (j’etais turbulente et surtout curieuse) font partie de mon identite et meme si je les ai cachees toute ma vie, je ne serais plus la meme sans.
    Je joins le chorus pour demander plus d’articles comme celui-ci qui tombe a pic apres celui d’hier !

  • Oh my, I relate to each one of those scars. As a home bread baker, I have at least one permanent baking scar on the inside of my right arm. I took a terrible spill on roller skates in my 20s — no broken bones but a skinned elbow that left a scar that is still barely visible almost 40 years later. And the forehead scar…. I experienced that one from the mom side of things. My toddler son put a little divot in his forehead while running with keys in his hand. (Lucky it wasn’t an eye!) But I’m pretty sentimental about that one, since I’m probably the only one who can find it now on his 30-something forehead. And, yes, I’d keep every one of these scars. The are all signs of a life well-lived.

    Oh yes, and while the puppy is too cute for words, I LOVED the first photo of Jane. Those eyes!

  • I have a large scar down the length of my spine from a surgery, and while I don’t have any embarrasment or shame attached to it, I almost always keep it covered because I don’t like for people I don’t know well to ask about it, like it’s an easy conversation starter. In the summer at the beach I have no problem with it showing, I guess I just instinctively don’t buy clothing that’s backless or would show too much of it.

    It makes me wonder how people feel about other surgical scars – from c-sections, illnesses and so on. My mom is embarrassed of the scar on her stomach from when she survived cancer, which makes me kind of sad on her behalf. I guess everyone has complicated feelings about these things though!

  • This is beautiful.
    Makes me think of all the times I touched a scar tenderly, asking: What happended there? and getting to know a story that left its traces far more than skin deep. Makes me remember when my son proudly observed his bruises. Makes me aware that our bodies are not a wrapper or a sheath, but that we are our bodies (at least, if that is your believe, not here on earth), just like we are our souls and minds at the same time.

  • This is such a beautiful post! I love my scars. I have one on my right knee from playing basketball. A little one on the bridge of my nose from chicken pox. A cut on my thumb from when I sliced it open in an art class. They tell stories about your past!

  • Wish you had included the most banal, and most embrrassing of all, acne scars

  • I guessed what the chef’s scars were, because I have identical scars–getting things out of the oven causes a lot of scars.

  • Quel beau billet, avec des personnes de la vraie vie, sans fard ni paillettes. Tout ce que j’aime. Et concernant les cicatrices, je les adore, mais surtout des petites sur le visage d’un homme, je trouve ça hyper sexy !

  • Laure M March, 30 2017, 4:47 / Reply

    Bravo pour ce superbe article ! Un vrai plaisir de lire des choses aussi concrètes, intimes et marquantes que l’histoire de ces femmes, gravée sur leur corps… Je pense que ça nous parle à tous et à toutes. Les cicatrices, même si elles ne sont pas systématiquement visibles, nous marquent à vie, sont parfois douloureuses et témoignent de notre passé ! C’est génial d’avoir eu l’idée d’en faire un article ! A quand le prochain dans ce style ?!

  • I love the post and the idea behind it.

  • Sandrine Vaillancourt March, 30 2017, 10:07 / Reply

    J’adore cet article! J’ai une cicatrice profonde dans le bas de mon dos d’une fois où je me dépêchais pour ne pas être en retard et je m’étais accroché à un meuble à coins pointus. Mais maintenant je l’adore!

  • Alexandra Schorndorf March, 30 2017, 3:03 / Reply

    I simply love (and can relate!) to this post. I just broke my shoulder 6 weeks ago snowboarding and have a scar from my surgery. It runs from the top of my shoulder to the middle of my arm. This post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time and I plan on embracing my scar like the beautiful women above. xo

  • Ouf. Ca pourrait être nous. Sujet intéressant en plus. Merci

  • I was such a tomboy and therefor have so many scars, my father used to joke I would never find a man because of them, and strangely The ones that are visible I don’t like, but my man thinks they are cool, so dad, you were wrong only about this one thing.

  • Kathleen Bunce March, 31 2017, 7:45 / Reply

    I am not a chef like Jane Coxwell but a home cook, and I have the same oven scars on my arms from rushing and not being careful. I don’t think about them, but my husband does not like them because they remind him of how careless I can be sometimes and he worries.

  • Mamavalveeta03 April, 1 2017, 12:28 / Reply

    I have several surgery scars that I never even give a second thought about, and yet, the scars from my severe eczema are the ones that embarrass me…that people ask about with a disgusted look on their face, and I quickly try to explain so they won’t be afraid that I’m contagious! Thought provoking article…

    And Sophie, my husband is an EMT out here in MTK and said, “She should’ve taken the ambulance and she would’ve had pain control and a faster ride!” Glad you’re healing!

  • Interesting. Almost a celebration of the imperfect. But….. I have many scars on my face along with scars on my hand and body, and even my eyes, from surviving the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. Along the years, I have had many plastic surgeries but had to stop because I couldn’t handle anymore surgeries on my face. I have been amazed at both the sensitivity and meanness of people. Of course I get the “oh but you’re still beautiful” comments but I understand .

    In the end, we still have a long way to learning how to accept imperfections, scars, damages to the initial package. Those of us with scars, especially on our faces, in a world that wants Kardashian “perfection” yet mouths a false acceptance of diversity, sometimes struggle. Yet these scars are our souvenirs of own personal history to share.

  • Caroline April, 2 2017, 1:18

    Fran, that is such a powerful story, thank you for sharing!

  • I have two big scars on my left forearm (6 and 3 inches, inside and outside my forearm), from self-harm. I was about 20, had just moved to the city, had no friends and was in a pretty toxic relationship, and I remember sitting on the steps of my flat, reading live how my then-boyfriend was telling his friend how much he hated me when he left himself logged in on my laptop. I wasn’t really thinking, and cut much deeper than I imagined, and then everything stopped for that beautiful “OH sh*t what have I done!?” moment when I realised none of it was worth it.

    Spent 4 hours in the emergency department, had 14 stitches, and that was the last time I did that to my body. They’re really ugly scars, they pull, they itch, they ache when my forearm swells during exercise, and people stare at them at all the time, but now I don’t really notice them anymore. They’ve become such a part of me that I think I’d have a hard time picturing myself without them. When I notice people looking I do feel really self-conscious because I worry people judge me for what I did, and that’s probably the worst thing about having them. I’m really glad I’m still alive, I’m really glad I’m in a happier place and I’m really glad I went on that journey because I learned a lot. I do wish people would be less judgemental about it.

    (And for a happy ending – I’m now with someone who is the most supportive, A* person on the planet and we celebrated 2 wonderful years together in September. I’m about to graduate from university and although I still struggle with depression, I now know how to care for myself and others around me. Silver linings!)

  • Vasilisa April, 4 2017, 4:51 / Reply

    This article made me very happy. I had and accident last summer which cost me eight scars on the right leg, and I am still coming to terms with them. It was inspiring to read about women who carry theirs with pride. Kisses.

  • beautiful

  • Orangeufunny April, 12 2017, 2:57 / Reply

    in America, we seem to be in a culture of looking in, not looking out. We are obsessed with ourselves to the detriment of others. If I am so worried about what people think of my scars (and I have a few), I am wasting valuable time on this planet that I could be reaching out to others, making a difference in someone’s life, bringing hope and joy in my workplace and with my neighbors. We are so self- focused right now. All of social media and print media is about how we look, and what we wear and how we need to slim our belly fat and plump up our wrinkles. Maybe we are here in this world to do more than look in the mirror and worry about ourselves. In fact I’m sure we are here for more than this.

  • I have so many. But what is most interesting to me is not telling the stories of mine but hearing the stories of others and hopefully doing something to help the women to have them to feel more empowered.

  • Thank you for allowing such beautiful beings to display their vulnerability – I am also carrying scars. Whilst I grew up with one on my forehead, I ended up falling from a ladder in very traumatic circumstances and required head surgery as a result of a haemorrhage and a near stroke. This was a tough one to handle as I was also in a abusive relationship at a the time so it was a sign that I had to get out of the situation I was in. I felt so angry for being “scarred” but now it is a symbol of the universe finally telling me to “get out”. I listened. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and beauty emanates from the heart.

  • I knew Jane was a chef even before reading the lovely story! I’ve many of the same. I so appreciate and understand this story. Scars are beautiful and important. I used to be embarrassed by the visible reminders left across my body from multiple brain surgeries but they now only remind me of how strong I truly am. Thank you.

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