Scars of courage

Violeta at age 4 — before getting bit by a dog at age 6 and developing a fear of all canines

Violeta at age 4 — before getting bit by a dog at age 6 and developinga fear of all canines

The way I see it there are two types of scars. The physical ones that vary between big or small, made by deep or superficial cuts. And there are the sentimental scars — those that heal after painful experiences, but remain within you as a memento. Inevitably, there comes a point in life when both scars are bound to cross paths, and be a result of the same cause.

I lost count on how many times I’ve heard that beauty is meant to be flawless. Just as I also forgot how many times I thought it was right to consider scars a flaw. Consequently, I let myself dive straight into the pool of society’s stereotypes, judging not only myself, but also what I thought was ‘not beautiful’. Yet the only wrong I ended up noticing was the misconception we are growing up in.

I remember how I got my first and only scar. At the beginning, I would shiver at the look of it, a big scar that made me feel less of a person, because ‘beauty is flawless.’ And I had a flaw in the upper side of my left knee. The story is ridiculously funny. I rarely say what really happened — “A lion bit me”, “I fought a shark,” or “A crocodile tried to eat my leg,” since the real story is nothing compared to what others have gone through.

The truth is I got the scar when I was 12 years old and running away from a Chihuahua. I had an absurd fear of dogs at the time, so when the dog ran to play with me, I began to race up and down the beach. Of course the dog thought I was playing, as well as the adults thought that my frightful screams were part of the playful act.

In my failed attempt to escape the dog – I still swear it wanted to eat me alive – I got tangled up in prong wire, and not until blood streamed down my leg faster than the Río San Juan did things get serious, and adults preoccupied.

As a stubborn, pre-adolescent, I cried until I convinced my parents not to stitch up my leg. The wound was deep and wide and needed stitches in order to heal efficiently, but I could live with a scar; eventually a Harry Potter spell would fix it. (Until I remembered I never got my letter of acceptance.)

I was filled with regret of not stitching the wound during the teenage years, when pool parties and dresses forced me to show my leg’s ‘flaw’. However, later on we experienced a greater wound, a bigger scar —not a physical one.

My mother was diagnosed breast cancer, and we stood still. Hoping, wishing, praying. When she healed, the scars made her look as gorgeous as ever, and I realized how wrong ‘beauty stereotypes’ were. In fact, I came to believe that scars enhance your beauty. Needless to say, my mom didn’t like them. Who would? It wasn’t her choice, and she fought against it.

Hers were scars of courage. And it got me thinking of all the women who through the ages scarred themselves, painful wounds to their pride, dignity and body, in order for us to be where we are today.

Our right to study came as a scar to somebody else. Our right to vote, to love whoever we want to, our right to decide for ourselves and be able to stand up to anyone is a big wound that’s still healing in women’s history. It was such a long road to women’s self-discovery, marked by brave women whose sacrifice made it generation through generation for us to surrender at the feet of a stereotype trying to ‘define’ who we are, or worse: tell us who we should be.

Nicaragua’s scar is still wide open and far from healing. We are stronger than ever, yet abuses prevail. Women are still harassed and disrespected, young girls are forced barefoot under the blazing sun to beg for pennies, or are being sold for sex.

It is offensive and immature when people blame Nicaragua’s economic status for exploitation or the lack of education for the violation of women’s right. In no way should where you come from or what you do be a justification for disrespecting or mistreating a human being.

As women we share a common birthmark, not on our arms or our forehead, rather placed in the middle of our hearts. A scar that we inherit from bold women like our mothers, and one we should be proud of, because it makes us beautiful.

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