summer

Self-Harm Scars and Summer

There are always things that we see, hear, smell that make us think of a certain time in our lives, that bring back memories of joy or those that we’d really rather forget. When the thing that you’d rather forget is emblazoned all over your body it becomes rather difficult not to think about. But every day when I see my scars I’m thankful that now I don’t need to deal with my emotions by taking it out on my body, that waking up to another day is something that I enjoy. However, baring my scars in public does not come naturally to me and consequently, the summer can be a difficult time. Here are some of my thoughts on how you can help people with scars feel more comfortable this summer.

 

Top tip number 1:
People with scars should not have to hide them to make you feel comfortable.

No matter how far I have moved forward from that time in my life, learning to live with my self-harm scars and the way that others perceive me because of them is something I find difficult every day. Summertime and warm weather is my favourite thing, the sun streaming across my face fills me with joy. It also makes me very hot, which makes wearing long sleeves impractical. At the same time, I feel enormous pressure not to bare my scars, not because I’m embarrassed by them, but rather because of the way they make other people feel. I am always particularly conscious of children, who not knowing any better, may ask their parents about the origins which could lead to uncomfortable conversations. But this reason is not enough for me to have to hide my body.

 

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Top tip number 2:
Don’t stare, don’t raise your eyebrows, don’t say anything.

For most of the year I keep my arms covered, whether or not people are looking and passing judgement is irrelevant because it feels like everyone is staring and making assumptions about the type of person I am. I am not my depression, I do not need to be pitied, I do not need you to come and talk to me about ‘how brave I am’. What I need you to do is to ignore them. I do not presume that the way I feel about my scars is the same way that others do and some people may find words of encouragement useful but let those words come from the people closest to them. Wearing the darkest time of your life on your body for everybody to gawk at is not my summer wardrobe essential of choice but it is something I have to accept, and for the most part, I have.

 

Top tip number 3:
Do not presume to understand the way the individual feels about their scars.

When people talk about self-harm scars they’re normally divided into two groups, those who view them as battle scars- the thought of this makes me cringe but if this helps you learn to love your body that’s great! More often than not though they’re seen as something you should be embarrassed by. I recently got some of my scarring tattooed over. I never expressed my reasoning behind this to my tattooist, who is a lovely lady and I know her intention was not to make me feel this way, but she kept saying she wanted to make me ‘proud to wear my skin again’. Now whether or not this was her intention, this implied to me that I should be embarrassed by my scars, which I am not. Similarly, when I recently went for my driving theory test I was asked to remove my jacket. I requested that I keep it on because today wasn’t a day I was feeling too great about my scars and I didn’t want to have strangers I didn’t know staring at me. I took my jacket off and the man, slightly shocked, stuttered that I could put my jacket back on and that he was sorry and he didn’t realise. When I left he gave me a sympathetic nod and said sorry again, as if he had done something unconscionable, which again makes me feel as if there is something terribly wrong with my body despite knowing that he was just trying to be kind to me. These two recent interactions are commonplace for people with scars

 

Top tip number 4:
If you have self-harm scars you are far more aware of them than other people, so embrace every inch of your body.

Whether your scars are moderate or severe, everyone I know with scars is very conscious of their own, while others may never notice them. This is something I try to tell myself every day, the way I feel about my scars is not the way other people do. I often read into situations and apply meaning that isn’t there and I am very conscious of this but that doesn’t stop me from feeling as if people’s eyes are glued to my scars whenever I am out in short sleeves. Last summer was the first time in 6 years that I went out without the safety blanket of retreating into a jacket and it was so liberating. For the most part, people are too involved in their own lives to pay any attention to the lines on my body.

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Embracing my scars and enjoying the sunshine

There are always going to be situations in which I feel more or less comfortable bearing that part of myself, and that’s okay. Bearing your scars in public is a learning process, and recognising the situations when you may be massively uncomfortable is important. But don’t let your fear of other peoples judgement stop you from feeling liberated in your own body. And if you see anyone with scars remember to be respectful of them, their body owes you no explanation.

 

Words by Charlotte Morris-Davis
Images by Charlotte Morris-Davis and Logo TV

 

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Playlist: Briony’s Summer Anthems

“Summertime is here again, and my hayfever is through the roof. Thankfully sitting inside and sneezing gave me an excuse to make up a new Anthem playlist full of excellent female tracks to listen to whether you’re out on the beach or hiding from the sun like me…”

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Click here to listen: Briony’s Summer Anthems

Why You Should Listen to Hinds

July 2016: a month of dancing, sun burning, friendship, disposable cameras, DIY punch, and gross toilets. Yep, it’s festival season and I decided to ditch England and travel to Spain for BBK and Benicàssim Festival. Although I could babble on about how wonderful it was to watch Kendrick Lemar, Grimes, Tame Impala, Mac Demarco, and so on, there was one band that really made an impact on me this summer, and their name is Hinds.

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It’s not a secret that the music industry is a boiling mess when it comes to female liberation. I’m sure we can all agree that music is an expression; we love it, we dance to it, and most importantly we relate to it. Relating to music isn’t just about the overall topic of a song, it’s also who is presenting this topic. I think it’s safe to say that alternative music is dominated by the white male.

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Hinds are an all-female ensemble from Madrid, Spain. Let’s just say they’re probably the most inspiring and authentic young female musicians I’ve ever seen. They want to be sharing their music with us, and naturally, Hinds smash the patriarchy by doing so. Not only are Hinds hella talented, they’re also hella smart. During my Hinds research, I found that they’re often questioned about being a female ensemble; “Why only girls? Is it because you didn’t have any other choice? Or was it the only choice?”

To which band member Carlotta Cosials replied, “It was because we wanted to and it was the choice we chose. We thought that it would be so different If the rest of the band would be boys, people would probably think that we’re just the faces.”

Hinds knew that including men in their ensemble would distort the way they are viewed as female composers. Although some of us don’t give a fuck about gender, and enjoy art for what it is, there are still many who will assume the worst because they are female. The same interviewer later questioned if they made music with a feminist motive, to which Hinds replied “We are females writing music so you can’t avoid that.” Which is pretty self-explanatory, but the interviewer acted as if Hinds were the only female musicians making their music automatically controversial, and more likely to be disliked because they have vaginas.

If you haven’t already fallen in love with Hinds, I’ll give you another reason to follow them on Spotify. Hinds refuse to be anything else other than themselves. Hinds are smart enough to reject the music industry’s misogynistic expectations, they’re not here to change the world, they’re here to be artists.

“I felt perfect in the world being a girl and suddenly in music you’re judged about everything you do, how you sing, how you pose, how you dress, how you write, everything.” Carlotta Cosials also brings up that there are a lot more women in popular music than alternative. If popular music is your cuppa-tea you know that only one type of woman is being represented, the idealistic woman. With alternative music being loud, dirty, and expressive, it’s encouraged to be loud, dirty, and expressive, but when you have a pussy, all of a sudden your behaviour is questioned.

Now before you go off to listen to Hinds on Spotify, I want you to do a small task for yourself. Go to your iTunes/Spotify artists section, and note down which bands/artists are female. Once you’ve done that you can share your results wherever, or just use them as a stimulation to listen to more female artists!

Here’s a cute photo of Team Poo Boy meeting Hinds at Benicàssim.

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Peace, Love, and Cacti
Courtney McMahon