For most brides, the most difficult decisions they’ll face whilst planning their dream day are: who to pick for bridesmaids; how to arrange their table plan; and – of course – which dress is the dress. However, there are some circumstances in which the latter may be more complex than it should be… I’m talking specifically about dealing with scars on your wedding day.
The Skin We Cannot Shed
It’s become the norm for many brides to plan to lose half a stone – a couple even – in preparation for their big day. I’m not undermining the effort and determination required to set such a goal and achieve it. But for a few, weight issues (which can be addressed) are the least of their concerns. The dilemma facing some women is a little more difficult to remedy: the exterior of our bodies which we’re unable to change; our skin – specifically scarring.
As their wedding day approaches, there are some brides who will be full of trepidation at the mere thought of displaying (or attempting to hide) parts of themselves about which they’re insecure. Whether that insecurity is minor or devastatingly overwhelming, it’s a problem no woman should have to face.
“Our bodies are simply a vessel”;
“It’s what’s inside that counts”;
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
Whether we wish to admit it or not; whether we wish it were different or not – no matter how many times we hear and repeat such platitudes, the reality is that the way we look is as much a part of who we are as the way we think and the way we feel.
We recognise a person’s identity from their name, their voice, their mannerisms. And from their face. If right now you could choose to switch your facial features with those of your favourite model or film star, would you do it?
It’s easy to say we would choose to swap a body part, because with self-discipline, clean eating, and a tough workout routine, that change is an achievable goal. But to change our facial features is to change our identity; and few would make a conscious decision to do that.
Yet for some, there is no choice.
I recently had a relative over for coffee and cuddles with my baby girl. She is training to be a nurse, and was telling me about work experience at the local burns unit. A veteran nurse asked her whether she knew anybody who had been treated there, and my cousin told her about me:
When I was a toddler, I was scalded in a freak accident: a cup of boiling water went over my head. I was badly injured, with my face a mess and my jumper sticking to my arm, from which it was ripped away. To cut a long story short, I was rushed by ambulance to the burns unit, where I received skin grafts to my arm. This is the area where, despite wearing hideous pressure garments for more than a year, I’ve been left with permanent scarring. Miraculously, I did not require surgery to any other part of my body, all of which healed perfectly due to my tender age.
A touching tribute to the care I received:
The nurse remembered me. From nearly thirty years ago.
My relative went on to describe to her the dress I wore on my wedding day; the nurse was visibly moved. As was I, to write this post.
My Stunning Dress, My Stunning Fortune
I wore a gown with my arms entirely on show (except for when I donned my feather cape for the outside photos, Daaarling).
My scars did not form part of my decision-making process when searching for The Dress: it never crossed my mind. It simply did not occur to me to feel insecure. And it was only having that conversation with my relative that I experienced the dawning realisation of how blessed I am.
Disguising Your Scars on Your Wedding Day
So I was inspired to write a post for those less fortunate than myself: the women who carry scars of their own, for any number of reasons, but still struggle with them. And while this may come across as hollow, naïve, or trite, I shall say it none the less:
I hope that on your wedding day you disguise your scars behind the excitement you feel for your nuptials, the love you feel for your husband, and the joy you feel at your marriage.
I hope you camouflage your imperfections with delight and pride and iridescence.
I hope your nearest and dearest help you to forget your perceived imperfections and that their love on this most special of days makes you feel beautiful, inside and out.
Improving Your Scars – and Then Accepting Them
While I wholeheartedly believe in accepting our flaws and being kind to ourselves, I also understand the desire to fit in with our peers and be ‘normal’. So I feel it is appropriate to mention a treatment I underwent, which I believe was hugely beneficial to the appearance of my scars.
The scarring on my arm is relatively extensive, the majority of the front of my arm is affected – though as I have grown, so the scar has somewhat contracted. The lumpy, vivid purple of my younger years has matured to mostly flat, pale skin. Milk bottle white like the rest of me, it is less noticeable than it once was, which has definitely helped me come to terms with my differences.
People do still ask me about it in the summer when my arms are exposed – but it surprises me every time. And it never offends or bothers me.
I was a teen when I became aware of a new therapy available for raised and angry scars. It is so simple, and yet so incredible effective – medically proven up to 90%. And it can be used on scars up to 20 years old! A self-adhesive silicone gel sheet is worn over the scar for several weeks. Permanent improvements can be seen after 2 – 4 months. I am not sponsored by the manufacturers of this product – I simply know that it can achieve incredible results. And the best part? At less than thirty quid, it’s not even that expensive.
I don’t recall the brand I used, but if it interests you, there are several you can choose from:
Living with Your Imperfections
You may have to live with your imperfections, as I do. But I have learnt that it’s not mandatory to live with your insecurities.
If I now had the opportunity to be rid of my scars, I wouldn’t do it. I have lived with them for far longer than I have lived without them, and I was so young when I sustained them that I have no memory of life before them.
And so, for me, being without my scars would mean losing a piece of my identity.
Besides which, they do not define a person. Just as the colour of one’s skin does not define them; a disability is not defining; and a pretty face is not the whole story either.
A Worthy Cause
Every day there are others sustaining far worse injuries than mine. The wonderful burns unit that cared for me sadly no longer has a dedicated charity, but for anybody moved to donate, the Katie Piper Foundation does a sterling job caring for burns survivors.
Please spare a few moments to visit the site and consider gifting whatever you are able, however small.