Growing up, I had a scar on my face?a perfect arrow in the
center of my cheek, pointing at my left eye. I got it when I was 3,
long before I knew that scars were a bad thing, especially for a
girl. I knew only that my scar brought me attention and tenderness
As I got older I began to take pride in my scar, in part to stop
bullies from taunting me, but mainly to counter the assumption that
I should feel embarrassed. It?s true, I was embarrassed the first
couple of times someone pointed at my cheek and asked, ?What?s
that?? or called me Scarface. But the more I heard how unfortunate
my scar was, the more I found myself liking it.
When I turned 15, my parents?on the advice of a plastic
surgeon?decided it was time to operate on what was now a thick,
shiny red scar.
?But I don?t mind the scar, really,? I told my father as he
drove me home from the local mall, explaining that I would have the
surgery during my summer vacation. ?I don?t need surgery.? It had
been years since I?d been teased. And my friends, along with my
boyfriend at the time, felt as I did?that my scar was unique and
almost pretty in its own way. After so many years, it was a part of
?You do need surgery,? my father said, his eyes on the road, his
?But I like it,? I told him. ?I don?t want to get rid of
?You need surgery,? he said again, and he lowered his voice.
?It?s a deformity.?
I don?t know what hurt more that day: hearing my father call my
scar a deformity or realizing that it didn?t matter to him how I
felt about it.
I did have plastic surgery that summer. They cut out the left
side of the arrow, leaving a thinner, zigzag scar that blended into
the lines of my face when I smiled. The following summer they did
the same to the right side of the arrow. Finally, when I was 18,
the surgeon sanded my cheek smooth.
In my late 20s, I took a long look at my scar, something I
hadn?t done in years. It was still visible in the right light, but
no one asked me about it anymore. I examined the small steplike
pattern and the way it made my cheek dimple when I smiled. As I
leaned in awkwardly toward the mirror, I felt a sudden sadness.
There was something powerful about my scar and the defiant,
proud person I became because of it. I have never been quite so
strong since they cut it out.
Excerpted from ?Readers Write,? a regular feature in
which The Sun invites its readers to submit their own
essays on a particular topic such as falling in love, excuses,
laughter, idealism. A truly unique publication, The Sun
covers every subject imaginable from politics to the small
epiphanies of everyday life, but always with strong, sharp, clear
writing. Reprinted from The Sun (Jan. 2003).
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