Nothing like striping down in the airy community pool change room to remind you of all your insecurities, right?
Returning to the pool has meant that I have had to face my Change Room Anxiety. The truth is I have avoided changing in any sort of public setting since my double mastectomy last March. The very thought of baring all in front of a group of random strangers made me cringe. But I simply cannot ride the subway in a soaking wet bathing suit in the middle of Canadian winter, so Triathlon training meant it was time to face the music.
The change room is full of sideways glances, judgement, and that feeling of being exposed. Add to that a chest covered in fresh scars, a lack of nipples, and a couple of silicone implants where my breasts used to be and that takes things to a whole other level.
Its not the comments that I worry about. Most women won't say anything. It is the lack of response that I fear. The double-take at my scarred body. The pitying thoughts that accompanied those sad glances. The hushed whispers not quite out of ear-shot. It is the idea of pity that I fear. It is my inability to explain these scars and this situation that scares me.
My scars are raw. They are jagged. And they aren't pretty. This I know.
But they don't represent weakness or sadness. They represent an empowered decision I made for myself. They say I choose health - that health really does trump beauty. They represent strength - both physical and mental. They mean I won - I beat Breast Cancer and Heart Disease. They represent the long life I plan to live and that I am so grateful for. And I never want anyone to confuse the two.
It has taken time, some soul searching, and a whole lot of self-love but I realized that by showing those women my scars I was really showing them that I love this body. And by hiding, whether I knew it or not, meant that I was ashamed.
This is me - flaws, scars, and all. And being healthy is what is truly beautiful.
Just a friendly reminder - Never Let Anyone Dull your Sparkle. You are beautiful. Just as you are.
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,