I can think of so many things that are delicate. Flowers, babies, and tiny kittens. Self-esteem, egos, and hearts. Poets have waxed eloquent on the soft petals of a flower, the fuzz on the head of an infant, an easily breakable heart, or a quickly bruised ego.

But you know what I think is delicate? I think human skin is delicate.

I always imagine the human body like a delivery package. The outermost covering is bland, while the inside thrums with life. Our skin protects whatever is inside from falling out so I suppose in that sense, it is quite strong.

But in face of an errant nail, a knife-edge, or boiling water? The skin might heal but scars never fade.

I have a huge birthmark down the back of one thigh. It’s just a patch of skin much darker than the rest, almost like a coffee stain, pockmarked with no discernible shape. I used to be so embarrassed about it when I was young.

I felt disgusting and I felt people who would see it would think I was disgusting. Wearing shorts, dresses or swimsuits would make me feel like I was committing a crime, exposing my scars to the world.

My entire life, I’ve envied people who had clear scar-less skin. And as if fate had to mess with me more, I had an accident in my early twenties when I burnt myself with hot water. The result? Another huge darkened patch of skin, this time down the front of my other thigh. Another huge blow to my self-confidence.

I had stopped wearing anything which was above the knee for a long time until one fine day, I decided not to care anymore.

One day, I stopped hiding both my scars. I stopped feeling like they were dirty. I started wearing what I wanted and ignoring the downward flicker of people’s eyes when they passed me on the street. I started to feel a strange but empowering sense of pride which replaced the humiliation from before.

No matter how unseemly, the scars were mine. My scars are beautiful.

They were my identity.

They were what made me unique. And I knew that if anyone looked down on me on account of my scars, well then they were just not worth my time.

There’s an old wives tale that says your scars reveal who you were in a past life.

Some say they are lucky. Some say they bring misfortune. I prefer to think of scars as wabi-sabi — a Japanese concept that accepts and defines beauty as one that is ‘imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’ in nature. An aesthetic art form derived from Buddhist teachings.

Scars, in the end, are just like tattoos inked on the skin. A mark that represents something one has a deep connection to. The only difference is that while we choose our tattoos, our scars choose us, be it burns, scratches or birthmarks.

I wear my scars proudly, now and always, for they represent the deep connection I have with myself. They are the intricate tattoos, the artworks, the paintings of my soul.


Featured image from Summer vector created by storyset – www.freepik.com