I was hesitantly getting my nails done the other day. I say hesitantly because I’ve always just preferred doing my own nails due to the fact I hate going out to a shop and sitting there and getting things filled, shaped, polished, dried….blah, blah, blah. I get bored so dang easily and I always think of a million things I could be doing instead of sitting there. So….I’m just not a fan of the entire process.
But I was going on a trip to promote the book and my own nails were a hot mess, so I thought I would give it a try one more time. I had a nice gentleman working on my hands and we were talking about the book, where I was headed, and I shared a promotional pamphlet about the book with him.
He was astonished. The pictures did it. The before and after shots just overwhelmed him. I understand that. Sometimes when I look at them, they overwhelm me as well. I look at the woman in the before picture and I remember her pain. Even still, I look at her and I gaze into her eyes and wonder how she survived that battle. How, when all of the calamity ended, rubble and ruin surrounding her, did she remain standing?
Life attacked her. Her own body waged war against her. People and society ravaged her spirit, but somewhere deep in the shallows of that breaking soul was the heart of a warrior. Don’t let the tiara fool you, she’s battle-tested.
But back to my nails.
As is typical in these types of situations, the gentleman began with a barrage of questions. He was truly inquisitive about this transformation and how it was accomplished. Immediately he wanted to know about the removal of the excess skin. His interest seemed genuine and sincere and I answered with honesty. The conversation continued for a few moments and then he said, “Well what about scars?” “Do you have scars?” If there were sound effects that accompany a conversation, this is where you would hear the screeching brakes, the record skip, the shattering glass, and the eventual crash.
Before I could even answer he continued by saying, “Because if you have scars everywhere, that’s not even worth it. No one wants a woman who looks like Frankenstein.” He followed this statement with a shudder of sorts—as if he was freezing—an eyeroll, and a sound of disgust that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard before.
I sat there.
We had silent eye contact.
One thing you can trust and believe is that my mind was racing. My thoughts went to all of the times I tried to hide my body under big, loose clothes because I was ashamed of my size. I thought of all the times of having sex in the dark, or partially clothed so that my boyfriend wouldn’t see my body or my scars. I remembered all the times I felt I had to choose a one-piece swim suit so that I could cover the scar on my stomach. I raced through the years of long sleeves because I didn’t want my bat wing arms to be seen or after I had the skin removed, I didn’t want my scars on my arms revealed. I thought of the cases of Mederma I’d purchased to rub on my body trying to erase scars that were tattooed on my soul. I thought of the ex-friend of mine who said that her husband didn’t want her to have her extra skin removed from her arms because he didn’t want her arms to look like mine because he thought my scars were disgusting.
And then I remembered who I was, am and always will be. What kind of warrior doesn’t have scars? With or without the skin removal, I had scars. I had scars because I SURVIVED. I made peace with those scars and this body of mine long before this day. There was a time I worried about men like him: men who would be critical of my body or my scars. Now I know that any man who even gets to see my scars should be so damn happy that he’s whistling, Happy by Pharrell.
I define my beautiful.
All of this rushed through my very active mind in about 15 seconds. I finally focused in on the man who was holding my hand and I realized he wasn’t working, he was just looking at me. Apparently, all of those painful memories that had been visually playing themselves back in my mind were showing on my face because I can honestly say I saw a little fear in his eyes. I chose to say, “Well I could have died or I could have lived with scars. I chose scars.” He looked at me and quickly said, “oh, yes, yes, yes.” He went back to work and finished my nails in silence.
As I was paying at the counter with my card I inquired about tipping because a lovely lady had done my pedicure and I didn’t know how to split the tips. I resolved it by walking back and giving her a nice, cash tip and I went back up and put a very minimal tip on the receipt for him and signed it. He looked and was surprised and asked me if I wasn’t happy with my nails.
I looked him in the eyes and said, “My nails are fine, but you know how us Frankenstein people are, we just don’t tip very well.” I stood there, looking into his eyes and waited. It took a few seconds, but it sank in. With that I told him to enjoy his evening and I left.
I sat in my car in the parking lot and I contemplated what had just gone down. I was actually proud of myself for keeping the Queen subdued. Trust me, she’s always sitting quietly on her throne, which exists in the insecure hallways of my heart, just waiting to jump into action and reveal how truly crazy she can really be. There was a time I would have really unleashed a can of verbal whoop-ass on him that he and everyone else in the salon wouldn’t have forgotten for years.
But today I love the person I see in the mirror. I love her scars, her imperfections, her wrinkles, her badonka-donk, her madness, all of her average, below average, above average things. I am imperfectly me, and I am okay with that. I am LOADED with imperfections. I make mistakes and usually they’re big ones, but the people who comprise my inner circle love me in spite of them. I can assure you that each and every one of those people have seen the Homecoming Queen of Crazy Town in action. While she can be quite entertaining, and she’s a formidable ally, she rests peacefully when self-love kicks in.
We all know, however, that self-love is a journey full of victories and setbacks. So sleep well tonight, my Queen, because tomorrow, my newly formed self-love may not be strong enough to keep you from unleashing your untamed fury upon the ignorant squim-squam who haven’t learned yet that true beauty is found in the imperfect.