So today I was sitting next to a lady in the doctor’s office. All of a sudden I noticed she was staring at my neck. At first, I couldn’t figure out why she was looking at me. Then I realized I had my hair up (in my usual messy mom-bun) so she must be looking at the long scar on my neck from recent spine surgery.
Once I realized what she was staring at I jokingly said, “Don’t worry, I was asleep when it happened. I had neck surgery.”
She paused a moment and responded, “You know make-up would probably cover that. You should think about doing that.”
I thought to myself, “I’m sorry lady, what did you just say?!”…but instead responded by saying,” No need to cover it up. I’m not ashamed of any of my scars, inside or out.”
Timing was on my side because, at that exact moment, they called my name and I went back to see the doctor. She never had the chance to respond…nor should she have.
Do we honestly live in a society so vain that a stranger has to tell someone they should do something to change their looks, to cover up their scars—their true self?
Shouldn’t women be honoring each other in unspoken sisterhood?
I didn’t get a chance to finish my conversation with this misguided woman but, if I did, it would have gone something like this…
“I honestly want to thank you ma’am. While I don’t think your words were delivered with malicious intent, your comment enraged me.
It awakened a self-confidence in me I didn’t even know I had at this point in my life.
For this I will be eternally grateful.
In that moment I realized I will no longer allow you, or any other member of my fellow female tribe, to bring me down or attempt to make me feel less than.
I will no longer self-doubt or listen to the voice of negativity that often roars inside my head.
I am not ashamed of my scars, inside or out. I own them and wear each and every one of them as a badge of honor. A testament to my journey.
I own all my imperfections. The scars all over my body as a result of 18 surgeries over the last eight years. My ‘fluffy’ belly, my cellulite, my thinning hair and almost non-existent eye brows, my breasts that are currently losing the war against gravity, my wrinkles, and my ever-fading memory.
For you see I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image and that is truly all that matters to me. I am perfect in His eyes.
My God doesn’t care if I get plastic surgery to cover my scars on the outside. My God doesn’t care if I get liposuction on my Pillsbury Dough Boy belly to fit into a socially acceptable size, microblading on my hardly-there-and-what-is-there-is-gray eyebrows, or any other procedure to alter the natural aging process He created.
He cares if I acknowledge, and grow from, the scars that have cut me so deeply on the inside.
He cares if I am a good wife, mother, daughter, and friend. He cares if I am kind to others and if I try to make a difference in this world.
He teaches me not to offend but to make amends.
He encourages me to lift others up, not to tear them down. He looks at my heart and not my waistline. He admires my strength and not my stature. He judges me on what’s in my soul, not what’s on my skin.
My God does not make mistakes.
I hope as women, we can rise up and no longer make the mistake of judging others.
When we sit down next to someone in a lobby, we can strike up a friendly conversation seeking out what we have in common. We can rally rather than divide. We can empower others to see the beauty in their flaws.
Most importantly, we can own each and every one of our scars and no longer feel the need to cover them up.
In the short time you spoke to me today in an attempt to criticize, you probably never could have imagined the positive impact you would have on my life (but you truly did).
You have given me the gift of self-awareness. A new outlook on how I view myself and others.
For that reason, I will forever cherish our brief encounter…thank you ma’am.”
Dawn Kuhn is a stay-at-home mom who spends most of her free time advocating against the misdiagnosis of (and wrongful medication of) minors with mental health disorders through her website. Personally she has been through 19 surgeries in the last 8 years and tries to use her experiences to inspire others to power through the setbacks in their life. She has been married to her husband Tim for 17 years and they have two teenage boys, Adam and Alex.
Image courtesy of Thought Catalog.