A common phrase I’m sure most people have heard when referring to scars is ‘a tiger who earned their stripes’. This statement is important to make those who have scars not feel embarrassed or ashamed of them, but to see them as power and be proud of them. This is a sentiment that resonated with me, apart from the fact that my scars are spots, instead of stripes. So, when I think of my spotty scars, I think of another strong, powerful big cat, the leopard.
For context, when I was 6, my family and I went to Orlando, Florida for the once in a lifetime holiday to DisneyWorld. It was an amazing holiday! However, when we got back, I started getting these spots around the left side of my hip and they started to become really itchy. Thing is I’d had chicken pox when I was really young, so it shouldn’t have been that. So, we went to the GP and found out I had shingles, which is basically the big bad brother of chicken pox. I had to take these “banana flavoured” antibiotics, which was awful and tasted nothing like bananas, and then put on calamine lotion to the spots and scabs. This lotion was meant to be soothing but it stung so much! I remember crying every time it was applied! Also, because of the positioning of the shingles, around my left waist/hip area, meant I couldn’t wear trousers or skirts, and I was instead living in summer dresses in the middle of April, which is well-known for its showers!
After 3 weeks off school, I was no longer contagious, everything had calmed down and life could go back to normal. However, not everything was completely normal because the scabs might have gone from my body, but white spots remained where the scabs had been. For a while, this made me really self-conscious and I wouldn’t let anyone see my scars. Thankfully, they are in a place that can be easily concealed by clothing, so I was lucky.
But, over time (now 15 years on!), I have grown to accept and love my scars. It takes time to get to that stage, but now I am there. I always remind myself that they are a part of me and my story. This is something that did happen to me and I just have a visual reminder everyday that I got through it. This is why scars should be seen as a positive thing. The body has healed and scars are the proof of that recovery, which is why they are something that should be celebrated and not ignored.
So I like to say I am a leopard, who earned her spots and think of my scars in a positive way. They will always be a part of me and I can accept and love that.