I've been meaning to write this for years. Who knows why today's the day, but saddle up! We're going to talk about The Thing I Never Talk About Mainly Because It Doesn't Matter: my scar. The prominent one, right on my face, that I've had since I was three years old. The face scar that has been asked about, but that I've never brought up in a single conversation. Today, I'm pumped up on my annual pumpkin spice latte (gross, I said it - why is pumpkin coffee even a thing?) and riding a wave of happiness about a score at Home Goods, so let's roll.
If you only know me from the internet, you do not know about this scar that has an odd way of being both central to my identity and at the same time completely meaningless. Why don't you know about it? It's huge, it's there, so why doesn't it show up in pictures? No, I don't Photoshop myself. The reason you can't see it is because every time I pose for a picture (unconsciously at this point) I position myself at the exact angle to keep it out of the shot. That, or I'm surrounded by kind photographers who virtually erase my cavernous scar by blasting it from all angles with professional lighting. It's there and deep as a river. Anyone who has ever known me has seen it.
Chances are if you are a personal friend of mine, even you don't know how I got it because the way I have always weeded out friends and dudes is by who asks me about my scar. You say to me "what happened to your face?" it's no soup for you. Consequently I have a lot of very polite, probably curious friends. The answer is kind of a sad kitty so let's just get it out of the way so we can move on to all that stuff about how my scar holds zero power.
[Flashback waves] It was a beautiful fall day in the early 80's and I was standing up in the passenger seat of my parents' T-top convertible. My mom was driving and I was throwing tissues out of the roof. A safe scene! I remember it as clearly as yesterday. Wait, that's a bad analogy because I actually forget what I did yesterday. What are we talking about? I like candy! No. The car accident. Okay, so my three-foot-tall self was laughing hysterically at each tissue flying away in the wind behind us when my mom said I'd better sit down. Her exact words were, "You'd better sit down in case a little kitty cat* crosses the road and I have to slam on my brakes". For whatever reason, I actually listened to my mom and sat down. You will know this is the miracle of the story if you have ever dealt with a three-year-old. So that's it. That's my whole memory. Apparently about ten seconds later we were slammed head-on by a drunk driver and I was left bloody, unconscious and toothless on the floorboard of the car. End scene.
You'd think I'd be some kind of anti-drunk driving advocate or super into car seat safety, but I'm not. I mean, those things are important, but poster-childing is a big job and I'm about as into those causes as the next person in the checkout line. Maybe this gives you an idea of the impact of this facial scar on my life. That is to say (after some personal effort) not much impact.
I didn't realize Tina Fey has a scar about like mine until I read Bossy Pants. She nailed it when she said maybe the reason she felt beautiful and thus had the confidence to become so successful was because of the scar everyone was bluffing about. Maybe she was really a talentless hack and thus her Emmy-filled career was all a big misunderstanding. While I haven't enjoyed the wild success of Tina Fey, she and I did both have office jobs in Evanston. See? Stars, they're just like us.
Being a kid with a three-inch scar down your jaw isn't quite the bag of Skittles you'd imagine. People constantly asked me about it, but I can't say I actually felt ugly until one fine day in 1994. As I blossomed into a teenager with tig ole bitties, an awkward, misogynisty camp counselor stamped out any burgeoning confidence in my sexuality with, "Do you have problems with boys because of your face?" When I stammered that no, the boys seemed to like me just fine he said, "hm, it seems like that might be a problem for you with dating".
I thought about what he said for an hour (or a lifetime) and decided he was a hateful, gross little guy who had plenty of problems dating of his own. Later, a date got drunk and confessed that my scar was a turn on like the oddly sexy gap teeth of his favorite celebrities. I'll tell myself he didn't mean Letterman.
The truth is, getting past my facial scar has taken a little bit of work.
Step one: Stop liking your nose when someone at a party guesses your nationality and says, "yup, I figured you were German because of your huge schnoz". Follow this up with getting a blog, then fielding internet commenters telling you your lips are AWOL. Suddenly your scar is pretty tiny.
Step two: Realize that beauty is an illusion and you're just as capable of mastering it as anyone else. Make-up is paint that everyone has access to. Use it to draw on the eyes you wish you had and the lips you deserve. This is the reality of being an attractive adult female. So what if you have a scar or caterpillar eyebrows or a five head? Whip out your face-o-slap and move along like the rest of the world.
Step three: Like yourself for reasons that have nothing to do with your face. Maybe you find my confidence off-putting or undeserved, but I like plenty of things about me. A) I'm hilarious and B) I'm so humble!
Step four: Compare yourself to people who have less, not people who have more. Here's where my husband and I are completely different people. Well, besides him having a penis and enjoying the taste of jarred fish. He looks at people wealthier than us and tries to understand the missing piece. I don't give a crap about rich people. I look at poor people like, "woah, dodged that bullet". It's the same with obsessing about your looks. Don't look at magazines and compare yourself to people who are basically computer drawings generated to sell you clothes. Compare yourself to people with extra thumbs.
I keep getting asked how I'm staying sane knowing our child has several heart defects and quite possibly a genetic condition. The answer is DUH. Some kids are dead! See? We're practically a toothpaste commercial over here. Smiley and healthy and f'ing alive, bro. No scar or heart defect can eclipse the fact that we're still here. That's an accomplishment when you consider the decisions I made in my 20's.
Okay, that was a really long way of saying if you have a scar on your face, or anywhere, that you're probably still hot. Even if you're not, who cares! If a jacked up old frankenlady like me can have a mom blog and wear the same pants every day, the world is your biscuit too! I deal sage advice here at HG&S. Crap, I feel like I should be making some big point about self-love and body acceptance, but the truth is my scar holds such little power over me I can't even manage a good public service announcement.
Just remember, untagging yourself from Facebook pictures is okay.
*Actually, she said "pussy cat", but these were old timey times before the p-word got relegated to Stage Blue
Jenna Karvunidis has a Facebook page!
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