Picture Courtesy: Swathi Subhash Nair
Last time I went to the park on a chilly autumn evening, I sat down with a Rupi Kaur book in my hand to escape from the chaos around me. Looking around, I saw a leaf, the same leaf you see in the picture. As I kept observing, a train of thought began forming in my head. Examining this merely dead leaf, I was astonished at how the veins ran through it, the way of sustenance that it provided for its entire life. They surely were not the prettiest or the most memorable part of the leaf, but it was undoubtedly the most important part. These were the scars that this leaf bore during its lifetime. It was unique, and even though it was not something everyone appreciated, it had its own beauty. Stretch marks, surgery scars, acne scars and self-harm scars. These are just a few scars that most of us have developed at some point in our life. Growing up, all of us were told that we had to look a certain way. Our body had to be hairless, fatless, flawless, and most importantly, ‘scar-less’ because any mark on your bodies was considered “ugly:” by society. This shaped most of our teenage years, and we know it was NOT pretty.
Bodyweight has always been a point of bullying throughout school and college years for most children, teenagers, and young adults, even today. You are either too fat or too skinny. No one is considered “the perfect girl/boy” unless you looked like the photoshopped models or celebrities, who usually have an entire crew behind them that make them look a certain way. The years that are supposed to build up your self-esteem and confidence, end up shattering every inch of self-love you have towards yourself, unknowingly. At such a crucial point, most of us start experiencing a repertoire of mental health concerns such as anxiety disorders, frequent panic attacks and some even end up undergoing clinical depression. But due of our lack of understanding and society’s unacceptable views on mental health awareness, children and adolescents go through this in silence, while on the other hand, some are even unaware of it happening to them.
Self-harming has always been one such coping mechanism that many individuals cave into. An abusive relationship with your own body can be as toxic as being in an abusive relationship with someone you love. It not only leaves permanent scars physically but also damages you mentally and emotionally. I have met several 14-years-olds that self-harm to help numb the pain that they feel mentally. We have all experienced quite a few scars and we sometimes tend to hide them as much as we could. There are times when we would not change clothes in front of my friends or family because of the fear of being judged by them. We constantly work towards disallowing them to think that we were emotionally unstable and “weak”. As those years pass by, we also associate scars and anxiety concerns with shame and helplessness.
It takes one, years before you can wrap your head around the fact that the scars that you possess are not a result of something embarrassing or cowardly. I have also met different people and heard their stories about the struggle with body positivity and empowerment; and understanding that we may not be the only ones going through it, it’s important to learn to first make amends to your own body image. You find a different perspective in looking at your scars differently. Being a star child who loves stargazing, you begin viewing your scars as your personal and unique constellation. Each of them is different, some more prominent than others but when put together, they represent a struggle that was subjectively overcome bravely.
There are various cover-up methods that people have adapted over the years. One such method, which is universally accepted is tattoos. Tattoos have reclaimed self-confidence into millions of people around the world. You should not feel obliged to get a tattoo just to cover up your scars, but if it makes you feel happy, transform your scar into something artistic.
Picture Courtesy: Swara Mohite
Body positivity is a movement that has been in motion for decades. People have protested about stereotyping body image and have come a long way in the past few years. There are several blogs and influencers out there that preach self-love and body positivity. Even though it still has a long way to go, I am sure we can say with confidence that we feel a lot better than when we were 14. Although healing is a slow and long process, it may take years for your body to be treated with love, care, and respect not just by others, but by you too. But we are all working towards being the best version of ourselves every day. This post is to everyone out there, children, teenagers, young adults, adults, who have or has lost all hope in some point of their lives. Be brave because you are NOT ALONE, things get better. It takes some time, but it will get better.