The Visible Scar On My Face Means I Wear My Secrets On The Outside

There are deep psychological aspects of living with a visible scar.

woman with face scar Photographer_ME / Shutterstock

On my face, you will find a scar that's about three inches long and runs the length of my neck. Over the years, the scar on my face has gone from swollen, angry red, to hot pink, and eventually faded to the point where I can mostly hide it with makeup.

How did it get there? I've told many scar stories in my day. Most of them weren't actually true. But when a perfect stranger comes up to you with their pointer finger poised inches from your face and starts asking questions, you might be compelled to react less than politely sometimes, too.


My favorite responses to those kinds of inquiries have been, "My scar? You should see the other guy!" or, "It's from a knife fight I got into at a bar." Most of the time, people get the point and don't ask follow-up questions.

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But living life with a visible scar is like wearing your secrets on the outside. It can be hard when the first thing others notice about you is a reminder of something you'd rather forget. And your self-esteem takes a hit.

People I've never met aren't entitled to my story. And just because they ask doesn't mean I have to share.


Now, there are many people who have asked me about my scar in a compassionate and respectful way. There are also children or people who have a difficult time understanding boundaries, who are just curious and don't know any better.

I've never treated anyone with disrespect, regardless of my discomfort discussing the origins of my scar.

In a society where celebrities are nip-tucked, Botoxed up, and Photoshopped to perfection, I've felt pressure to be scar-free in order to be considered beautiful. It's more than skin deep; there are also psychological aspects of living with a visible scar. It's difficult not to feel self-conscious and anxious about standing out.

But more than a struggle with my self-esteem or feel compelled to comply with an unrealistic beauty standard, I hate my scar because I think it's ugly and I hate what it represents.


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In attempts to minimize my scar, I have tried prescription lotions, natural remedies, worn silicone bandages for months at a time, endured painful cortisone injections, and even had a surgical revision. I'm lucky because my scar could look much worse than it does, but I'm not above admitting that I still wish it would disappear without a trace.

Leading up to my scar revision — surgery to improve the appearance of a scar — I felt a combination of nervousness and excitement — fortunate because my health insurance was footing the bill, excited it might look smoother afterward, and scared about the pain of recovery.

During my procedure, the numbing agents the surgeon used didn't work. So when he made the first cut into my skin, I could feel every bit of the scalpel, and it hurt.


Although the surgeon quickly realized this and stopped, it did freak me out. That was the first time I wondered if I had gone too far. I left the hospital that day with fresh stitches, in hopes that after a few months it would diminish the unevenness of my scar's edges.

Scars do reveal but just because it's visible doesn't entitle the world to your story. Dealing with trauma is hard enough as it is, but thinking about how you will have to explain it to others because you can't hide it only compounds stress and anxiety.

I respect people who chose to tell their true scar stories. Hope, inspiration — there's so much to be gained from listening to other people's struggles. But it's just not me, at least not at this point in my life. I want my privacy. I feel entitled to it and it helps me feel better.

I suppose it's somewhat ironic given I'm writing about it, but maybe there are others who can relate. People who feel proud to have made it through something, but still want to keep their story private.


For that reason, I feel compelled to say that even though every scar may have a story, it's up to the person who has it to decide who and when to tell.

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June Grace is a freelance writer who writes about love and motherhood. Her writing has been featured on xoJane and YourTango.