Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Wearing Short Sleeves with Scars in Summer

To the girl who referred to me and my friend as looking like effing barcodes, thank-you for inspiring me to write this post.

I wasn't planning on writing up a post regarding wearing short sleeves through summer, and braving having my scars out on show, for the world to see and for strangers to judge. I have written a whole bunch of posts about self harm in the past, and I was worried about coming across as repetitive but it is something that needs to be addressed. 

Last week, me and my friend reluctantly ventured into the city wearing short sleeves, it was a decision that we made after the heat from the previous days being so overwhelming that we either had to stay inside or risk going out in long sleeves, resulting in us feeling hot, bothered and ill. I had prepared myself, I knew that I was going to get stares, I knew I was going to feel vulnerable, weak and patronised but I wanted to go out to enjoy myself without risking getting ill from overheating. I try not to notice people staring, I go about my day and I avoid looking at peoples faces because in some situations, what I don't know, doesn't hurt. I am not the most comfortable whilst wearing short sleeves in public, it makes me feel very self conscious but I had to pretend to be confident because if I wasn't, then I could risk drawing extra attention to myself.

As the day went on, I relaxed a little bit more but I started to notice the stares, the glares and the strangers who would look me up and down. I can completely understand people looking if they have noticed, but I feel like it is one of those situations where you notice, you look and you turn away instead of staring and risking making that individual feel uncomfortable. Apparently this is not the case, apparently people feel like they have the right to stare, the right to ask questions and the right to judge me. What's worse, is that the most of these stares came from both middle aged and older people which again, I can understand a little bit because this topic has only really been well known over the past ten years but I don't believe for a second, that not one of these people didn't know what my scars were from and that they didn't even consider how it could make me feel to be judged all day, by strangers. 

It was as we were walking out of one shop that we overheard a girl say to her friend "look at them girls, they look like effing barcodes" which I did laugh at, because at least it was original and it wasn't worth feeling angry or upset over, but was it really necessary? I realised then that there really was no point in worrying about what everybody else thinks of me because at the end of the day, these scars are on my body and I am the one who has to live with them, day in and day out. If they want to be shallow minded enough to judge me and try to make me feel uncomfortable, then they are not worth my time. 

I know that my scars aren't pleasant to look at, I don't like them either and I am hoping to get tattoos to cover them up, but my scars have to be at least three years old and white for this to happen, so I am sorry if the sight of my scars hurt your eyes, but at least you're not the one who has to live with them and before anybody says "but you did it yourself", I am aware, but in the moment you don't think rationally and you definitely don't think about the future, and having to carry your scars, especially when you're not even sure that you have a future.

So before you stare, you judge and you make a person feel uncomfortable, please remember that they are more than an illness, more than their scars and that they aren't doing it for attention. Please at least try to stay mindful about what they may have been through and that they don't deserve to risk getting ill, just because they feel like they have to hide their scars.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Other posts about Self Harm:
Self Injury Awareness Day 2018
Living with Scars & Stigma
What to expect when visiting A&E for Self-Harm
Self-Harm Scars: Gradual Exposure

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