Being a burn survivor since the age of two, my scars are all I’ve ever known.
A fire in our family home left me with third-degree burns to my face and hands and minimal second degree burns to a small area of my chest and left elbow. Years of reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts left me with additional scarring on each leg, my abdomen, and my neck.
I’ve always been a fashionista and now work in the fashion industry. I’m also extremely passionate about sports and staying fit. Between fashion and daily workouts, it’s nearly impossible to find clothes that don’t reveal at least one of my scars.
Though I love my legs, I didn’t always like wearing shorts or miniskirts due to the donor site areas covering the front and back of both thighs. There was also a time I steered clear of plunging necklines and low-cut blouses to cover the scars on my chest.
Thank goodness I worked to build my confidence because I can’t live without the perfect wrap dress or midi skirt!
The journey to loving the skin you’re in is a transition that can take years. We all want to look and feel our best—and when you’re uncomfortable exposing your scars, warm weather can bring unique challenges.
The following tips provide some tools to help you build confidence by looking good and feeling good.
None of us are perfect. Accentuate the positives and remind yourself of the things you love about yourself every day.
One of the most difficult things about having outer scars is dealing with potential stares. It’s important to remember: don’t take it personally. Often, a simple smile has disrupted a staring for me. Be prepared to answer questions. (I mostly find myself doing this for children.)
Be your biggest motivator. Stay determined to be positive through every encounter, even the negative ones. Once you truly love the person who stares back at you from the mirror, the opinions of others lose their power.
Our scars are a part of us now. I believe that becoming comfortable with revealing your scar begins with accepting your scars and loving yourself. Once I became comfortable with my own scars, I didn’t try to cover them anymore.
Becoming comfortable in revealing your scars to the world is a process. If your goal is to one day be able to expose your scar fully, take steps that will allow you to transition comfortably to that stage. Maybe you start with wearing sheer or short sleeves that don’t fully cover the scar. When you’re ready, continue the process until you’re confident enough to wear a sleeveless top.
No matter what, remember: you are in control of your journey.
First, consider your comfort level with your scars. When and how will you choose to expose them?
If you’re not completely ready to show your scars, sheer or lace tops are great warm-weather choices. Sarongs and flowy sundresses also provide a fun alternative for covering up the legs.
Headed to the beach? Sheer-cover ups add the perfect fashionable touch to any swimsuit. These can be found in different versions from crop to duster length and they can easily be incorporated into your daily fashions. One of my latest favorites is the mesh bikini trouser, for swimwear.
If sheer isn’t your thing yet, also look for breathable fabrics that can be purchased in long or in a full pant. Breathable fabrics can aide your transition to revealing more of your scars. The breathable fabric options are endless, allowing for needed comfort in your daily routine; including heading to the gym.
This rule applies to masculine fashion choices as well. If you desire long sleeves to cover your scars, look for breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, and nylons for activewear. Any of these options will work great for casual shirts, pants, or shorts.
Take baby steps.
Don’t feel pressured to expose your scars—or to hide them. Exposing your scars to the world can be harder for some than for others. Never feel ashamed for not yet having the comfort to show your scars.
Your main goal should always be to build comfort with your scars—without feeling obligated to expose them to the world if you don’t want to.
I was fortunate to have been raised by a remarkable woman who instilled the importance of loving myself no matter what others think. That doesn’t mean I never struggled over the years with truly understanding the value of the lesson. As I grew older, I became more aware of my scars—but even more, I became aware of how others noticed my scars.
Not all scars are visible, but they can make us feel flawed or imperfect. Society is consumed by the misconception that outer beauty must be achieved to obtain inner beauty.
In fact, inner beauty radiates far brighter.
Inner beauty is what defines us.
Linda Rowe Thomas is an award-winning fashion designer, author, philanthropist, and motivational speaker. In 2006, her love for fashion led her to create her own couture fashion brand Romás by Linda Rowe Thomas which has shown on the most prestigious fashion runways around the country. Linda is also the founder of a women's empowerment foundation called the Designing Hope Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization benefiting burn survivors and those with disabilities.
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