In June 2005 I had a surgery for cancer that left me with a large U-shaped scar on my neck. Since then I have had the misfortune of being initiated into the world of rude staring. You see, people seem to think it's OK to stare, avoid eye contact, and then dash away. It's not really the staring that gets me but the refusal afterwards to look me in the eye. I know you were staring so why not look at me and acknowledge me too?
On behalf of all of us with scars, here are some tips the next time you're tempted to stare at someone and then look away:
1. We know our scars are obvious. We realize that you're going to see them and be a little shocked. We're fine with that. Look us in the eye, smile, and acknowledge us.
2. Having these scars means that we've either been through something traumatic or had a surgery that saved our lives. We already feel self-conscious enough so please look at us and if you'd like to know why we have these scars just ask. Usually we're happy to answer you and share our experiences.
3. We really are still just like you. We do everything the same as you everyday. We are physically "flawed" is all. That doesn't make us any less of a person or make our feelings any less important.
4. Please don't make awful faces at us. We can see you. We don't want to have these scars. We didn't ask for them and again, we've obviously been through something pretty significant to get them.
5. Be proud of us. Support us. Congratulate us because you see, we are survivors. Survivors of cancer, abuse, accidents, and so many other things. It doesn't matter what happened to make us scarred just that we survived it and now live with these scars. We shouldn't be made to feel ashamed for surviving.
In general, remember that we are still people too and we are actually the ones living with this. I don’t just say this for people who may be scarred but anyone who may seem "different." It doesn't make us less human. If anything it might make us more human because we now understand the pain of others. Show us the kindness you would want to be shown if you were in our shoes. I'd be willing to bet you'll get the same in return.
How do you help your child(ren) understand physical and other differences?
*Originally posted by me at Dot-Moms.com on March 06, 2006. Reposted to LWH because I felt it was worth my newer readers having a chance to read and get to know me better*