This is not an apology

Today in Gravesend the temperature is perhaps the hottest of the year so far at 28 degrees Celsius. So as any other person would, I decided to wear shorts and a vest top on my way to work. Regrettably, the response I received from far too many people was not what I would hope for in 2016.

I will not apologise to you if the scars on my arms and legs offend you. All I am sorry for is that you were brought up to be so shallow that you are incapable of looking beyond somebody’s skin.

I am not sorry that my scars upset you so much that you feel the need to glare, to point or to make tactless comments about how they disgust you when you think I cannot hear. Psychology has proven that as human beings we are programmed to spend longer looking at sights which are novel to us, so if self harm is something you have not experienced before then I do not even blame you if you glance for a second longer than normal; that is completely fine and I understand. Staring or tutting however, are not ok and I should not be expected to deal with that.

Instead, I will only apologise to my own body for putting it through the trauma that I have over the past few years. To you, self harm scars may be shameful or “disgusting”, but to the sufferer they are a constant reminder of all the pain and hurt behind them, not only in their appearance but in the permanent damage to the nerves causing discomfort or itching even years after the injury. That’s not even to mention every story each individual scar tells, their memory causing continued emotional pain. If simply looking at them causes you inconvenience, think for a second how much of an inconvenience they are for us.

Do you really think we are happy with our scars? In reality those with self harm scars are more likely to swelter in boiling hot weather with their body completely covered as I have done for the past few years just to please you, the disapproving audience. It takes courage to have these scars on display so all that your stares and unhelpful comments do is knock confidence and self esteem – ultimately the emotions which are a core element of how those scars became engraved on my body in the first place. Do not jeopardise the guts it has taken today, or any day, to wear an outfit which is appropriate for the weather and not for your eyesight.

So before you stare at somebody walking down the street who may have a few more scars than the average person, please do reserve your disapproving looks for another situation where your opinion is actually welcomed. We all have scars in some form or other, but mine just so happen to be plastered on my skin from wrist to ankle for you all to see, so please have some respect. I may have lost a few battles but the fact I am still here today shows I have won the ultimate war and that is something I will be proud of, not hide in shame.

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