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Summer & Living With Scars

Summer has well and truly arrived in the UK. We’ve been given a heatwave warning by the MET office and temperatures reached highs of 30+ for us yesterday. While many will love this and run outside to bask in the sunshine at first chance… I, on the other hand, have mixed feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, sunshine and warmer days make me very happy. But this time of year also makes me feel uneasy. It’s not because the heat makes me uncomfortable or because I can’t handle it, it’s the fact that I can’t hide or cover up. “But why would you want to?”. Well…

I used to self-harm, a lot

I would post pictures of my scars, but it seems inappropriate and unnecessary. There’s a fine line between awareness/promotion that I don’t want to walk along right now. But for reference, they are up both my forearms and my right shoulder and very obvious since they’re a stark white against my skin. And there are many.

For the record, this is not a secret or anything I am ashamed of. I’m very open about it and joke that I wrestled a bear and won if people do ask. Metaphorically speaking, this is true. But what I am afraid of is the judgement and expressions on peoples faces when they notice. They wrinkle their noses at me like I’m some kind of putrid smell and avoid eye contact with me. It makes me feel tainted or diseased and that feeling lingers with me for the rest of the day, sometimes weeks.

I remember once waiting for a train in Stockport and there was a woman not much older than me at the time, sat on a bench on her own on this busy platform. It was a really warm day and she was wearing a grey cami top and jeans but hugging herself like she was trying to disappear or make herself as invisible as possible. I felt like I knew why, but couldn’t be sure. She eventually untangled herself and reached into her bag for a bottle of water and you could see she was covered in these thick, raised and painfully obvious keloid scars. They were everywhere.

My heart broke for her

There was no other reason for them to be there other than by self-inflicted means and I was right when I thought I understood because I was doing the same thing on the other side. Trying to hide myself from the eyes of strangers. I didn’t want her to feel that way and it is one of the only times I’ve ever felt brave enough to step outside of my comfort zone and take a risk.

I took off the light cover-up I had on, stuffed it in my backpack, walked over to her and reached out my most obvious arm and asked if I could have a sip of her water. She was a little confused at first and I was starting to regret my bold move, but she noticed my scars and her face softened and she gave me the biggest smile. I had a sip of her drink and sat down next to her and carried on waiting for my train. We didn’t speak, but it wasn’t awkward between us and when I got up to catch my train she grabbed my hand and said: “thank you”. All I said was “you’re welcome”, smiled back and got on my train.

I could see her still on the platform when I took my seat and rather than being curled up into herself, she had her hands by her sides on the bench and was kicking her feet like a schoolgirl. She was still smiling and I suddenly felt really proud of her, of me and what I’d just done. The silence between us hadn’t covered up our mutual understanding, and having someone acknowledge and empathise was really powerful

Moral of the story?

Be respectful of others and show empathy when it’s needed. It’s that simple.

This time of year takes a lot of courage for some people. They may be self-conscious about their weight, their bodies, their scars… anything. But if they want to wear that dress (male or female) and show their scars or fuller arms, don’t judge them for it. It will be written across your face if you do. I see it all the time and as recent as yesterday. Take a moment to consider the bravery it takes to put yourself on display and give them credit for it.

It doesn’t matter why someone has their scars, and it shouldn’t matter to you when you see them. Anyone with a scar they don’t love (be it from surgery, an accident, self-inflicted) will know how it feels to almost be ashamed and embarrassed by them sometimes. Don’t add to that burden with judgement and condemnation, it cuts people deeper than they ever could themselves.

Summertime makes this more of a regular occurrence and I’ve learned to harden myself to peoples stares and forget I might be an unusual sight to some. I’m 29 years old, but there are still times when I do notice and I have to compose myself, swallow that lump in my throat and fight the urge to run away.

So my message to those who deal with this, on any level, is – I’m proud of you. You are beautiful as you are and it took balls for you to put that short sleeve top or those shorts on. Your body tells your story that not everyone will understand or even consider. Your ‘flaws’ are your battle scars and badges of honour and you should wear them with pride.

Until next timeย โ™ก


  1. Before I open the curtains, congratulations in passing and bravely moving on whatever problem you encountered. You’re post (story) inspired me – I don’t have scars but I’m small and scrawny for my age (Male). The thing you did with the girl is pretty straight up awesome. You provided her the sense of kinship and understanding for that you got a SSS+ in my book. Kudos to you! ๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿ‘Š

  2. What a brave thing to post and what a lovely gesture you did for that woman. It can take the tiniest thing to make someoneโ€™s day and help them out a little. I have no personal experience with self harm but Iโ€™ve watched some of my closest friends battle with it and it can be such a horrendous reminder and knock on your confidence to see the scars, especially when youโ€™re in the recovery process. Just like with anything though, theyโ€™re a reminder of how strong you are and were to get through such a tough time! I always find itโ€™s the older people that tend to be the most judgemental with things like that too, people in our generation are much more understanding of the struggles and coping mechanisms. Sending love and hope you get to enjoy the sun whilst embracing body!
    Alice Xx

  3. I honestly could not agree with your post any more if tried. I love the sunshine and am always looking forward to summer but like you said with the whole not being able to ‘cover up’ i’ve never self-harmed like yourself but i am a little overweight and am always trying to cover myself up which is really hard when you’re fat.

    I understand where you are coming from completely for thank you for sharing this post and making me not feel alone!

    such a lovely post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I don’t know much about mental health, but this post really got to me and was heartbreaking.

    I have always had insecurities about my body as well, as I have never liked how short I was, or how large and round my face was.

    There has always been a time when I was afraid to wear a ponytail because people would always see how large my face was, and all I ever wanted to do was hide it.

    Thank you for your amazing words, and wear your shorts with pride ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Itโ€™s so brave of you to write this. Iโ€™m forever trying to talk to my daughter about harming – her friends do it and sheโ€™s very concerned about it. Itโ€™s a fine line between talking about it and making it an option. It isnโ€™t an option for most. Thank you for sharing this. Itโ€™s the second post tonight thatโ€™s made me cry x

  6. You’re so courageous to post your story, and so many people can relate to this, but have a hard time admitting it. You made that girl’s day, and I know she’ll never forget you. You created q silence bond that didn’t need an explanation, but a kind hearted gesture. And honestly that’s all it takes. Thank you so much for being so strong and telling your story. You’re amazing โค

  7. I’m so sorry you’ve struggled with self harm in the past, it breaks my heart to hear that you felt so low and I really hope you’re in a much better place now! What an amazing thing you did for that girl, I bet that made her day alot better:)

    Such amazing words!

    Kate |

  8. This is such a beautiful post, and you’re such a beautiful person. Firstly, thank you for sharing your personal story and being open; I’m certain this is going to help a lot of people in need. Secondly, such a heartwarming act you did. You have got to think about what this young girl is now doing or thinking, and how much you have changed her life from such a kind act. You’re an absolute star and you should be so proud of yourself!