Shiny Happy People


Bring back the snow!!

Yesterday I walked around Hampstead Heath with a friend.  It was sunny out- the light found its way through almost everything.  It was also what they describe as blisteringly hot- I feared for the people turning like toast under the sun.  Walking around, it struck me that people with all different body shapes and sizes were out in summery clothing.  I was impressed that for the most, people hadn’t pushed themselves into style corners.  From young I realised, reading teen magazines, that the advice about size or shape not mattering was a lie- yet here were people living out the “lie” and enjoying it.  It made me happy.  So do the long evenings, the shinyhappypeople, the picnic blankets and tightrope walkers and hula-hoopers in the park.  I like summer.

Yet, summer is the time that makes me most conscious of my scars, of the choice between drawing attention to myself for exposing them, or looking ludicrous in long sleeves and jeans.  It hasn’t ever bothered me, I think, as much as this year.  Possibly it’s my newly developed fashion sense- I like shorts too, dammit!  Or maybe it’s the conscious choice not to self-harm, that makes it feel so unfair.  I’m uncertain.  All I know is that there’s a vulnerability involved in both choices, an admission of difference no matter which option I take.  I don’t think it’s about courage.  I don’t see myself as having a responsibility to “speak up.”  I don’t see these as battle scars to be proud of, though I’m not ashamed, either.   Around friends I feel confident enough to wear short sleeves but in the bit of London I live in, I feel very conscious that I might bump into someone my family know, or similar.

I wrote this a year ago, and it still holds true:

I wear my heart on my sleeve. Under my sleeves. Every single day. A mess of white lines and pink bumps. They have crinkled my skin prematurely. Made me look like a deviant, or a victim. In summer, I swallow shame and go outside, arms exposed to the sun, heart exposed to the public. My heart- etched over my pulse points, spreading veins of scars up to my shoulders. It is almost like having my old diaries read by strangers. If the diaries were written in a language, a short-hand, that they recognised but did not fully understand.

And that’s a difficult feeling to live with.


8 thoughts on “Shiny Happy People

  1. I carry those same scars and refused to wear shorts or expose my arms for a long time because of them. Eventually I just stopped caring, I wish I could tell you something magically happened to change it but it was more so just a slow acceptance of self. I have some more visible, much deeper scars on my shoulders and the inside of the calves and they used to be what made me the most uncomfortable, but people hardly even notice them! Granted now, they’re old enough to have turned white instead of that attention grabbing, “I’m still healing” purple but they’re there no matter what. So I just embraced it.

    They are my battle scars. Everything I’ve survived and overcome, as you put it: “my diary”. There was a time in my life when that was the only way I had to cope with a lot of really terrible shit and while it may not have been healthy, it kept me alive. That’s what counts. Your scars are none of anyone’s business to be commenting on anyway. There are concealers and such that could help hide them but you’re probably more in your head about it than is even necessary Mama. Just. Do. You. You’ve suffered enough, you don’t need to sweat to death too! Lol. This was beautifully written and I adored the excerpt from the past piece you’d written about it. Bravo. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hey- thanks for this beautiful comment. I really appreciate your words.

      I’ve almost reached the place you’re at, caring less and less about what others think as I negotiate my life with my scars. Battle scars sounds right.

      Thanks again.

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