The first time I heard this Alessia Cara track on the radio last year, I was driving. I had just moved back to NZ after 22 years in London. I remember pulling over to listen …and then burst into tears!
Song lyrics often make me cry. To be fair , just ask my daughter and she will tell you that I cry during the News (who wouldn’t these days 😔), during the X-Factor and The Voice (I do plan to get professional help on this – I promise!) and I even have to check with her first, that in any animated Disney film, nothing untoward is gonna happen – cos that really sets me off!!!!
But ‘Scars to your beautiful’ is a particularly poignant lyric to me – and to many people. So many of us have scars – physical and emotional and they can be dam hard to heal and even harder to hide at times .
It’s funny – most people see me as ‘always’ strong, tough, and one of those human beings who can take any kind of crap that’s dealt to them and just bounce out the other side. Truth is – I’m just a dam good actress (Oscar worthy at times!), something I’ve learned over the years. I’m sure many of you are the same. And age does bring with it a better ability to block out others who use ‘unkindness’ as a defence mechanism for their own issues – its much harder when you are younger. Resilience is learned, not inherent.
A big part of my focus on physical training is to make me feel strong… I’m the first to admit that. It’s like an armour to me. Feeling physically strong helps me feel mentally strong… especially when I’m struggling.
The issue with physical scars is that they are visible from the outside, so no matter how thick your armour is – someone is going to see them…. and that makes us truly vulnerable. And in a society where social media and images of perfection seem to prevail – being physically scarred can make you feel ‘ugly’ to the outside world and damage your self-worth.
Not to mention, there are people that just can’t help themselves, but to point out the obvious. Have never, and will never, understand this. Although have come to the conclusion that’s a reflection of their insecurity and not mine.
I am blessed with an array of physical scars – I’ve worked dam hard to acquire them! There’s obviously the childhood ones that came from falling off bikes, slides and jungle gyms… they just make me giggle . There’s the mummy scar from having my daughter… that one is pure love 💓. There are the idiot, ditsy scars from trying to do a hundred things at once, like the large burn mark across my left arm from an oven door closing on me …. which only makes me roll my eyes at myself at laugh! Then there are the ones that don’t make me giggle or smile at all…. the melanoma and the brain surgery. These ones still hurt sometimes – physically and emotionally.
My Dad told me when I was younger, that scars make you ‘more interesting’. I reckon I’m becoming one of the most interesting human beings on the planet now!!!
What I am now learning – is to wear those scars with pride.
I used to find it really difficult when someone pointed out the scar on my head (which is glamorously accompanied by a nice bald patch of white skin, beautifully juxtaposed against my very dark brown hair! ) … I’d want to go into hiding. I’d love to tell you that it’s because it brings back memories of the operation, pain, fear or how difficult things were – but that’s a lie. It’s purely and simply because I feel ugly – there … I said it! You can call it vanity (actually you can’t cos have had that said to me and it’s such a cruel thing to say to anyone who has suffered hair loss from illness), but I have really struggled over the past 4 years with people looking at it – and then pointing it out.
However – I think I’m turning a corner…. a “f**k you” kinda corner!!!!
I am becoming proud of what it represents and if someone wants to point it out – well hell – they’ll get a dam fine explanation of the story and courage behind it. I now see it like one of my tattoos – I chose these and each of mine (there are three) symbolises a fighting spirit I possessed, at the time I had them. Well, my scar is no different and it lives with me to remind me how far I’ve come, how brave I can be and how much courage I possess. It’s my ‘resilience’ tattoo. Granted the artist was a little hap hazard – must ask for a refund!!!!
Our kids are being raised in a world so defined by perceptions of beauty. Don’t get me wrong – it’s always been there and I was raised by a mum who worked in fashion, but it’s different now – it’s everywhere.
I suppose I was extremely lucky to have an extraordinary role model in my beautiful mum. When I was 9 years old, my mum had malignant melanoma and it was very, very bad. In those days they didn’t dish out chemo the way they do now – they just kept cutting. I think this actually saved her life but hell, it left her with some pretty horrific scarring on her legs.
But my mum, being the goddess she was, proudly got back out on the beach a year later, in a swimsuit and she so rocked that “f**k you” look!! People stared and she ignored them… she was proud to have survived and be out with her family, who meant everything to her. Don’t get me wrong – she was conscious of how she looked and concerned how people would react – but she wasn’t so obsessed with beauty and perfection (at all) that she would hide away. She taught me your inner strength and beauty were more valuable. She so wore those scars with pride.
My mum’s strength, courage, pride and resilience provided me with the tools I needed to deal with the same issues over 30 years later – when I had my own 13 year old daughter and I needed to show her that a fighting spirit will serve you way better than beauty ever will.
Emotional scars are similar. They can cause us to be extremely vulnerable and scared at times, especially when bad memories are triggered. They can make us feel very isolated from others, as we can feel that their lives are ‘perfect’ and ours are badly ‘flawed’. I try and look at it very differently . I find people who have been through ‘stuff’ in their life WAY more interesting – even more so if they are willing to talk to me about it and then share how they’ve learned from it. I see these scars as the complete opposite of wounds – I see them as strong foundations for a more resilient and fulfilling life.
We need to be defined by the ‘change’ a trauma or illness brings us… not by the trauma or illness itself. This can be really damaging to our emotional and mental health otherwise.
Our whole life is about learning from the experiences we have and from that learning, living a life we are passionate about. Our scars, physical and emotional, need to give us strength, pride and confidence. Then we will smile at them and embrace them as a part of us, rather than the enemy. If we see them as something ‘beautiful’, then they can live with us in harmony.
‘Scars to your beautiful’ – hell fu**king yes!!!