It is psychologically and scientifically proven that the way you dress affects the way both others perceive yourself. As a child, I was always dressed the same as my sister, which in a summative phrase, was very bright. My upbringing was mainly in the country, so I lived in dungarees and hand-me-downs littered with colours and patterns that any little girl would love, which I did so very much and still do looking back. The Nicholson Twins were that of a typical Suffolk child; I could climb trees like a spider monkey and navigate a tractor like the back of my hand – tweed and overalls were my go to, along with the occasional tiger suit to mix things up. Phases of darker colours were the product of my rather emotional teenage years – despite many disastrous hairstyles and far too tiny eyebrows, my style remained in similar waters of ‘on-trend’ but ‘out there’ enough to satisfy my inner rebel.
After my operation, I spent a very long time hiding my body. After such a traumatic experience my body changed considerably which was inevitable – the weight fell away however new stretch marks and dimples appeared as I was pulled and pressed around to piece myself back together. Stretch marks had always littered my body and it had previously never bothered me, but when you have no control over your body or the way it heals, that can be rater distressing. The fresh, angry scars that surrounded my right breast and stomach caused a sense of ruin and unworthiness which I had never experienced before.
For a long time, I was unable to wear bras as my ribs would scream in objection at tight or heavy clothing, let alone an underwire. To this day it is still very hard to find bras or crop tops that fit without causing me pain, but there are worse problems in this world than unsupported breasts. Your teenage years are odd enough as it is – you have to find yourself and discover your path in life, yet now, when faced with this age myself I felt a little stuck at a fork in the road.
Before my surgery, I would be more concerned about what bra went with what pants, or whether my boyfriend at the time would like them – my post-surgery body left me envious of the times that I had complete disregard for my figure and the way it looked – I longed for the times when I would not notice the way my ribs now stuck out a little or the now more visible dents in my sternum. I wanted to feel normal again.
One way I chose to hid my anguish was to bury it. Literally. Baggy jumpers and large hoodies replaced the once colourful array of clothes that had previously been crammed inside my wardrobe – I became withdrawn from the way I looked because I just wanted to fade into the background. A distraction was needed from the dysmorphia I now felt surrounding the body I had been given in contrast to the body I was born with – I hated the hate I felt.
It is perfectly okay to feel insecure. It is perfectly okay to feel unhappy. What causes the problems to arise is when such a negative mentality becomes our only mentality – we all have days where we notice the cellulite, where you feel your stomach sticks out a little more than it did yesterday. Insecurity doesn’t have to be worn as an invisibility cloak. Wear your insecurities as trophies, as milestones and more importantly, the best parts of yourself.
My sisters scars show her triumphs. My mums scars show her children. My scars show my survival. My friends scars show success, sadness and a drive for life as a whole.
Sometimes it is okay to just please yourself, to be comfortable in your own skin and acknowledge that even though you may not be where you want to be you are on your way there.