These are the scars that were born of an accident almost 3 years ago.

They are the physical remains of burned skin, skin grafts, and staples. I see them every day, and have grown quite used to them. I even find beauty in them. And yet, I do not share these parts of my body with others outside of my home or close family.

I do not wear short-sleeved anything, and keep my legs covered. But if you were to look carefully, you might catch the crinkly skin peeking out – evidence of the most challenging time in my life.

This is my new body.

This new body has helped me break the spell I was under regarding beauty. Intellectually, I knew true gorgeousness was not skin deep. I’d heard all the PC viewpoints. But I did find myself wondering how people with scars and other disfigurements endured being in public. I felt self-conscious for them – not all the time of course, but the conversation always nagged at me from the periphery of my awareness.

As my body transformed from scarless to scarred I kept thinking: “I am the same, yet people will look at me differently.” I feared strangers would see my scars before they saw me, and feel pity or repulsion for my state.

Time healed my body, and I anchored into myself.

I realized there were scars and disfigurements more challenging than mine. There were also people who stood out for other reasons: weight, height, skin color, sexual preference, etc.

I began to realize that when we look only with our eyes, we view the world through the tinted lenses of stereotypes. We seek out shortcuts to determine our place within the many hierarchies presented by our daily lives. We compare ourselves to others, constantly searching for affirmations about our own safety and security. But this need espouses false assumptions, fear, and even bigotry.

When we see only with our eyes, we do not look with our hearts. We cannot look past the illusion of our judgments and fears. So what if someone is overweight, or hobbling along because of disfigurement? They know the state of their health and discomfort. We do not need to feed the narrative that creates further separation between our worlds and theirs.

We must choose to see with the eyes of our hearts and souls. We must find the commonality between us that pierces the ugliness created by isolation, suffering, and fear.

You see… I am you.
I am you struggling with cancer.
I am you walking on the catwalk, so admired, yet filled with self-doubt.
I am you fuming with aggression.
I am you enlightened and peaceful.
And you are me – with scars on your body.

We are one. Look into my eyes. Let me see you. Let me see your heart.

Ask me about my scars, and I will share with you the beauty of my life’s lessons.

Now, your turn: what are the barriers or challenges you face when you see someone who does not fit your expectations of beauty or normalcy? How do your head and heart react?

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