Scars

There was a time I looked down at the scars on my thighs and beamed with pride, as any child with a scar. The scars cut through the muscle to create indentations, one broad horizontal stroke on each leg midway between the knee and hip.

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

I loved summertime because I could wear swimsuits and show off the scars. I could wear shorts and when I sat Indian-style with bent legs, the scars cut deeper and were more evident. People asked, “What is that?” And I loved to tell them, “Scars from when I was in the hospital as a baby. I got so many shots in my legs that there’s no muscle there anymore.” Sometimes I wished the story was more compelling–a stabbing, maybe, or a car accident. But the fact that the scars were even there, that I was lucky enough to have them, was enough.

I’m not sure when it changed—maybe after reading a certain number of fashion magazines; maybe it was the eleventh time a friend complained about her butt; maybe it was the third time I heard about someone, “She’d be prettier if she lost some weight.” Maybe it was just the normal transition from prepubescent confidence to pubescent self-consciousness.

Then the scar on each leg marked a line. Below the scar my leg was slender and muscular. Above the scar my leg was flabbier and the flesh sat heavier upon it. The scar became a demarcation between what my leg could look like if it wasn’t there, and what it did look like. Between good and bad. Desirable and undesirable. There was no gradual upsweep from knee to hip. There was “pretty” and then “ugly.” And cutting right between the two, dividing them, making it impossible for the two to meet, were my scars. I lost ownership of them.

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