Two years ago, I had a series of insect bites that led to a huge skin problem. Nasty red patches surfaced on my skin and spread throughout my feet and legs like wildfire. It even felt like wildfire: I remember the burn jolting me awake on some nights and I had to try my damn hardest not to scrape at the inflamed spots with my fingers.
Of course I wasn’t very good at resisting it. Unfortunately for me, one of the spots got infected, leaving me with a huge scar on my leg. That’s the pigmented area you’re seeing right now.
For years, I covered up my skin disease–and the scars I earned in the aftermath of it–with jeans, maxi skirts, and patterned tights. As much as I believe that my value as a person does not entirely rest on my skin, I could not always muster up the courage to flaunt my legs (or you know, my scars). People naturally make initial judgment based on appearances. To borrow words from G. Stegelman, “Judging a book by its cover makes an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me.’ The thing is, that’s now hot we operate. Every day, we make a thousand assumptions based on what we see.”
So I wore outfits that provided me with fuller coverage. I have to say, that made shopping limited and much harder.

December 2014


January 2015

Eventually, I got tired of my sartorial repertoire: jeans and trousers stuck to my skin in the midst of humid summer heat. In tropical countries, that won’t always do. I longed to wear playful skirts, off-duty cut-offs, and easy dresses. I still didn’t have the courage to wear them, though.

Until one day, I ran out of clean pants, and my girlfriend (whose carefree attitude comes easier to her than to me) told me not to stress it out and just put on shorts for a change. It was not the most dramatic or the deepest of transitions, but it was a decision I made in a zap: I’ve had enough of full-coverage pieces. 
Since then, I’ve been wearing shorter clothes again. It’s wonderful to slip into a cute dress and shop clothes that aren’t full-coverage. I still have visible scars, but in many ways, a burden has been lifted off. It’s liberating to wear what I like, instead of wearing what I think people will like.
Admittedly, I have covered up that huge scar on my leg on photos with particular poses, or, if applicable, long, billowing cardigans. Sometimes, bright lighting washes it out, so it isn’t too pigmented—which is a good thing, because it does the job for me! This is the first time I’m releasing a photo of myself with the scar pretty visible. I have no intentions of editing it out, because I cannot bear to publish what is essentially a lie. That would create another burden for me and I’m done producing a flawless appearance that people would prefer to see.

Posted by:Abby Caranto

Editor and writer based in Manila. Introvert by nature, extrovert by liquor.

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