Are you hiding or showing your scars on your wedding day?

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Heads up: this post references self-harm and scarring.

Photo by Sara Smile Photography
Photo by Sara Smile Photography

Offbeat Bride has published numerous insightful and encouraging posts about “controversial” body markings such as tattoos, piercings, and out-there hairstyles — but what about scars? Especially those that have a story you DON’T want to tell?

The scars on my wrists caused by self-harming have been hiding underneath long sleeves (no easy feat in the South African heat!), and I haven’t even shared the background story with my friends. I’m not ashamed — in fact, looking at my scars reminds me what I’ve managed to survive. (I’ve got adamantium in my bones!) But I’m an intensely private person. And these scars are an intensely painful part of my story.

The result is a constant struggle between a desire to keep my inner anguish private, versus one to honey badger it (honey badger don’t give a shit!), and let the rude people be rude and the judgmental ones be judgey.

Thus far, privacy has won out.

My beloved has been extremely supportive — helping me to find the best treatments, buying and making endless bangles to hide my scars, encouraging me to just pitch up in public with bare arms… whatever I’ve needed at the moment. So far, so good.

However, our getting weddinged date is now a reality, and of course the affair should be authentic. On the one hand, Authentic Me likes wearing short, sweet, summery dresses. This choice would mean sticking my scarred arms in the faces of my adored ones. They care about me, so they might freak out and then… all the attention! I would have an introvert melt-down, because another Authentic Me fiercely guards my privacy.

Or, hey, my loved ones might tactfully, but awkwardly, ignore the scars. It seems like both reactions = vibe kill.

And this is where I’m stuck. How do I choose between versions of me? Does it boil down to a choice between a dress and my own privacy?

Sure, there are a couple of practical solutions:

  • Combining the short hem with long sleeves
  • Wearing gloves
  • Using temporary tattoos to turn my existing tattoos into temporary sleeves

But this is not about finding a compromise. It is about the compromise itself. A self-induced one at that! As a person who knows their own mind, being so unsure is a very unsettling experience. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually, but it would be great to hear how others are approaching similar situations.

How are you dealing with your self-harm scars on your wedding day? Are you hiding your scars, or wearing them with a survivor’s pride?

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