We Need to Change How We Talk About Scars

Everyone has their own experiences, opinions, and feelings concerning their scars. However, in general, certain societies have very specific responses to scars that depend on the situation, and the gender of the individual in question. Gabi Bouvier discusses the ramifications of our innate attitudes towards scars. 

Just to start off, I should say that this article does not concern scarification, nor does it seek to invalidate anyone’s personal feelings about their scars. This is rather a look at our responses to scars on other people. I recently got cut in the face with glass, and here is what I took away from the experience: everyone seems concerned with the scar, and more importantly ‘fixing’ it.

The whole process of getting a scar is about healing. It may not be ‘pretty’, and what it represents varies person to person, but no matter what, it is an experience someone has survived, and healed from. One person might hate their scars and seek a way to cover them up or remove them, while another might embrace them. Each are valid paths, but what is unfair, is the external commentary telling us to ‘fix’ our scars. After an injury, people might reassure you that your scar won’t be too visible, and if it is, there are always oils that will help reduce its appearance. And there are! If that is the route you want to take, many options are available.

While that might be exactly what someone wants or needs, that response will not be appropriate for everyone, but unfortunately, it seems to be the blanket response. It's not fair to assume thats what everyone wants to hear. If someone tells you they don’t care about a scar, then leave the subject alone. You might inadvertently be pressuring them into worrying about their altered appearance, when they otherwise wouldn’t care. On the other hand, the same process can remind someone of a scar, and experience, they do not want to remember; and it is not always your place to do so. Consider not discussing possible scars at all, unless you know them very well, you are informing them for medical reasons, or they bring up the topic first. Certainly do not continue to bring it up after they have made their position clear, and above all else, respect their feelings.  

Everyone is different in their needs and desires, so it is only appropriate to tailor a response to an individual. Do not use a blanket response created by a society that works to invalidate the feelings of those who have a different perception of what they should look like. Support them, but be careful with your words.