When you look at someone, what do you see?
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if there is something you can't see? Something not visible to the naked eye but could potentially be affecting this person's life?
I am one of those people. Not that it necessarily affects my daily life, a niggle here and there, a gentle reminder that maybe I can't stand up for as long as others, maybe I overdo it sometimes, maybe I forget about that vitally important posture.
A few months back I received a message from an old school friend, who had this flashback from way back when. It jogged my memory that I remembered.
A teacher I had somehow got onto the subject of Spina Bifida, to which I announced that I was born with it.
"That's not possible" was the response.
Yes, I am able-bodied, my scars are not out for all to see, but it has been through trauma.
Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect and means that the spinal cord is not fully formed in the womb.
Many people have a misconception that there is only one type of Spina Bifida, one where you end up in a wheelchair for life. This is not true.
I was born with the mild form, Spina Bifida Occulta.
At just a few days old, I had an operation to fix my back, and in turn got an infection in my bladder, leading to a second operation through my front.
Milestones such as walking, and bladder control, took longer for me to grasp, but I got there.
If you look at me today, you'd never guess. Unless you see the scars that have grown with me.
I see so many people, so insecure about scars, whether they be from C-sections, injury or otherwise.
Sometimes the circumstances are unfortunate and tough to deal with, but your scars are the evidence of trauma your beautiful body has gone through to keep you here today.
It took me until I was 25 to wear a bikini on the beach. I have to admit, I was nervous, even though I have never really thought badly of my scars.
With the help of a wonderfully supportive partner who has always thought I was nothing but beautiful, I wore that bikini, and with pride.
I think people, in general, need to have a better outlook on appearances. We see so much in today's world that it shouldn't necessarily come as a shock anymore.
If you walked by a person who was visibly disfigured, sure, even I would give a glance. But walk by that same person ten times over, I can assure you, you would see past that exterior, and see a person.
Ever think about the term "face value"? Well, we do too much of that.
Too much presuming, too much judging, not enough accepting of what our eyes are showing us. And being ignorant to the fact that there are many invisible illnesses people go through as well as the visible.
I love my body, probably more so after I gave birth to my daughter than any other time of life.
It gave me my beautiful baby. I took extra folic acid during pregnancy because of my condition, I birthed her naturally, and she is perfect.
If a second child has to be born by a C-section, it will mean I must be put to sleep.
That, of course, is a small chance, just like my first pregnancy, but I will have to come to terms with not seeing that child born, not getting to hold them straight away, but at least it will be for everyone's safety. That's what matters.
Ladies who have c-sections need to stop being made think they "didn't actually give birth" and start loving their bodies too. You did birth a baby, and your body went through trauma to get you there. Be proud of it.
Whatever scars you have, wear them with pride. Your body deserves the love and attention.