I was born with Critical Aortic Stenosis. At one day old, I had my first cardiac surgery and spent the first year of my life in and out of the hospital due to congestive heart failure. When I turned 18 months old, I had my second cardiac surgery, and when I was 12 years old, I had my third and most recent cardiac surgery.
As a result of the surgeries, I have two zipper scars side-by-side on my chest, a scar that goes under my breast and onto my back, cutdown scars on my wrists and elbows, and catheterization puncture scars on my groin. Thankfully, I was brought up to have a positive body image. In fact, to this day, I find my scars beautiful and unique.
The majority of my scars are covered up with my regular everyday clothes with exception of the top part of my zipper scars and the scars on my elbows and wrists. I do not make a point in trying to cover them up as I am not offended if someone asks me about them. In fact, I like it when someone asks me rather than just stare at them. I would rather explain why I have them and educate someone on my heart condition than for someone to come up with their own conclusion as to why I have all these scars over my body.
One day swimming in a pool as a teenager, I had a girl my age (who I did not know) come up to me and ask why I was wearing a two piece bikini when I had scars on my chest. She also stated that she would never wear a two piece bikini if she were me. I was greatly offended by her comment, and I told her that I wear it because I wanted to wear a two piece bikini. She then swam away and avoided me the rest of the time at the pool.
That day I learned an extremely important lesson: do not let others’ opinions of you change the way you feel about yourself. I could have let this girl’s comments get to me and become self-conscious of my scars. My confidence, however, grew instead because I was comfortable in my own skin– covered with scars and all.
To this day I still wear a two-piece bikini, but being a mother of a three year old, the two piece I choose is more modest with a boyshort bottom. Wearing a two piece bikini exposes my entire zipper scar, the scar under my breast that stretches onto my back, as well as my chest tube “stars.”
I must admit that I am, in no way, 100% confident with the way my body looks. I do have insecurities about my body just like every other woman. I wish my breasts weren’t starting to sag, and I wish that I did not have cellulite on my rear-end. Please note that neither of these insecurities have anything to do with my scars though.
I have been extremely blessed throughout my life and cannot imagine it without having a heart condition and the scars on my body. My only wish for others who have physical scars on their body is that they embrace them and are proud of them. I feel it is important that no matter your situation, you should be the most confident version of yourself.