I took this self portrait a few weeks ago for the weekly photography challenge over at I Heart Faces and wanted to bring it over here as well.
Here's my original entry to go with it:
Self-portrait, huh? I'll admit it; my first inclination was to take a super adorable shot of myself mugging for the camera, like the school photo I never had.
But then I started thinking more; what did I want this photo to *say*?
My portrait for this week is about more than just my face. The stretch marks, the surgical scars, the tiny dots left by large-gauge IVs… all of them, a roadmap to my life, starting with my kidney failure (and almost instant 150 lb. weight gain) in 2001, then my first transplant in 2004 (commemorated by the green ribbon tattoo) to the c-section that brought my son in 2008, the catheter I used for dialysis for 2 years, and finally the most recent addition, the mark left by my second transplant this past September.
They are as much a part of who I am as my face, and so I share them with you.
I haven't always been comfortable with these marks on my body; I've talked to plastic surgeons and dermatologists, googled my heart out, looking for some miracle cure that would give me back the smooth, beautiful skin I took for granted for so long. (Pshaw! So long… I was 23 when I got sick! Practically a child!) I've worn various Spanx type products to keep it all tucked and smoothed. The only thing I would still consider is tattooing… I'd love a piece that circles around my back and towards the front, but it's just not something I can see myself investing the time or money in these days.
I don't have a moment where a light bulb went off and *bing!* I was suddenly more comfortable in my skin… it's been a slow process… almost exactly ten years since I first got sick, actually. There are lots of little things that I think (or like to think!) have pushed me forward towards acceptance.
Jamie falling in love with me, the me WITH the stretch marks, was a big step forward. My first transplant helped too, even though it brought new scars with it. It helped the other marks move further into the past, become just a little less important. Turning 30, same thing. We've all read the articles about how a woman in her 30s is in her prime; I decided that if so many people were saying it, there must be some truth to it, so I decided to go for the gusto in my third decade. Carrying a pregnancy and having Max proved to me, in no uncertain terms, that even my scarred and battered body is capable of amazing things.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I am content with what I see.
I love your self portrait, so beautiful. I have many scars on my stomach from a few surgeries, all of them necessary to save my life. I hated them, loathed them, hid them from everyone. I even begged my doc to write a note to get me out of PE in high school, because the thought of any one seeing them while I was changing in the locker room just gave me too much anxiety. One day, I read an article, that said, "Your scars are beautiful, they are evidence that *YOU* got to live, you beat the odds and survived." Now I don't hide them so much.
Rita Arens says
I'd love to talk to you about syndicating this post for BlogHer.com's Own Your Beauty initiative, but I can't find your email address. Can you drop me a line at email@example.com?
wholly jeanne says
Sugar, you. are. beautiful. Absolutely, undeniably, exquisitely beautiful. Your body is an atlas of herstory, testament to your resilience, determination, and uniqueness. I love this post.
Leigh Ann says
Wow! Very powerful photo and post. You are a strong woman. A survivor!!
This is amazing Liz. Thank you for sharing YOURSELF with us.
Courageous and inspiring post! Bravo!
The Empress says
How sad that our society has conditioned us to say brave to love ourselves the way we are.
Still, I say, brave, and so in awe of how you've gotten to this place of acceptance and love of yourself.
It's quite a story. One to be proud of.
Beautiful post. I love my husband’s scars. They brought life out of almost certain death. You’re scars are beautiful.
Anita Ann says
Amazing picture and story.
Oh, LOVE, absolutely love.
You. Are. Amazing. ((hugs))
Such an incredibly rare place to be for a woman in this culture. I applaud you!!
Thank you so much, Erin!