Learning to Love Yourself

Photo by Marinell Pancho.

I couldn’t take the heat anymore. I was sweating like crazy. I no longer wanted to wear this stupid sweater.

Why was I even wearing a sweater in 90+ degree weather? Everyone around me was wearing tank tops and shorts. And here I was with sweat running down my face as I played basketball, wearing a damn sweater.

I don’t even know why I was worried about it so much. I just had a 15 inch scar running down my spine. No big deal. I would just hear the sounds of “oh,” “uhh,” or “eww” whenever I wasn’t hiding my scar. Then I would feel people’s eyes transition their gaze from the scar on my back to almond-shaped eyes.

I was diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis at the age of 10. After my surgery I only wore clothing that hid my scar, because I thought it was ugly.

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. “Abnormal.” That’s why I hated my scar; it set me apart from everyone else. My curvature was more than 45 degrees. To put this in perspective, the normal curvature of the spine is less than 10 degrees. No one else in my school had a spine curvature of 45 degrees, yet alone a 15 inch scar on their back. I was singled out, and it made me feel like a stain of red wine on white carpet. Visible, eye-catching, and terrifying. It also did not help that my relatives constantly told me to hide my scar.

My grandma would even directly tell me, “Oh, I see your scar. Hide it.”

Now my grandma just points out that she sees my scar. She’s stopped telling me to hide it, because one day I just stopped doing so. Instead of hiding it, I started to tell my grandma that I was showing it off. I just stopped wearing my sweater and let my friends, family and even strangers on the sidewalk to take a good look at the scar that ran along my spine. I wanted to show it off, because I finally learned to love it. My scar was a part of me.

Getting over the fact that I had this 15 inch scar along my back didn’t just take days, weeks or months. It took a few years, maybe about until my sophomore year of high school, to learn to love this flaw on my body. I just got tired of sweating during those hot summer days while everyone else looked so fresh in their spaghetti strap tank tops.

Learning to love myself took a long time. Every now and then I think of hiding my scar by wearing a t-shirt, sweater, cardigan, or flannel. I think about not wearing a top that reveals my back. But then I think, why should I? From the acne on my forehead, stretch marks on my thighs, and to the dead little pinky toe on my right foot, I should be able to show as much skin on hot summer days as any other person. I learned to love my scar and I learned to love myself more as a person.

It takes time to embrace our whole identity. It also helps if we have the positive support of others. Flaws, whether they are scars, stretch marks, or any other physical anomalies are a part of who we are. They are the imperfections on our bodies that make us unique and beautiful individuals.

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