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!
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!
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.
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.