The Skin You’re In: 3 Women On Accepting Their Scars

For so long now, poreless, crystal-clear complexion and taut, unblemished limbs have been regarded as beauty’s gold standard. To strive for better is only natural, but the constant push for perfection has most of us accepting that beauty is only skin-deep – that the default is when we’re completely flawless or unblemished.

Beauty marks are a part of what makes us human and often, they represent the significant moments in our lives. Acceptance and self-love is a journey (...one that I’m personally still on. Having acne and constantly being bombarded by press releases that promote alabaster skin is a struggle in itself!) that doesn’t happen overnight.

Thankfully, the body positive movement is stronger than ever, and #TeamCLEO supports this whole-heartedly. While we strive to make our beauty pages informative and keep you in the loop about exciting launches, nothing is more personal than appearance. Whether it’s shave or don’t shave, facing acne or you were #blessed with good skin, beauty is a choice and as long as it feels right to you, that’s what’s most important.

Let 2018 be the year we stop seeing our scars and beauty marks as flaws. Three women share the stories behind their scars and marks with #TeamCLEO. Read on and feel ready to embrace your own.

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Tengku Zainab, Campaign Marketing Manager at MySmink & Content Manager at Zafigo

1. Tell us more a little more about what you do.

I’m Tengku Zainab, I juggle two jobs: one as the content and campaign marketing manager of mySMINK, and another as the content manager and sub of Zafigo.

 2. Walk us through the incident that caused your scar.

The scar is a massive cross along the front of my right forearm. 10 years ago after dance classes, my then boyfriend and I went for dinner at BSC. I live really close by and when he dropped me home (it wasn’t even 10pm yet), he got out of the car to help me out with my things. When he did, this BMW pulled up behind his car and one guy got into his driver’s seat while another approached us. Everything happened so fast. My boyfriend went for the guy who got into his car, leaving me alone with the man who’d initially approached us. I screamed. Before I knew it, the guy in front of me pulled out a parang from behind him and hacked me with it. He was going for my neck. But I blocked him with my arm which split open and had a bone jutting out of it slightly. Once he shut me up, he went for the boy. Got him in the back and upper arm. Once they’d maimed us, they got back into their BMW, into my ex’s car and both fled. The whole thing was like a bad B-grade horror movie.

3. How did the scar and the incident affect you? Did you have to forego certain things?

It eventually led to me giving up dancing altogether. Like, it marked the beginning of the end of me as a dancer. There were a lot of things I couldn’t do anymore. It was especially hard in the beginning when I was so reliant on other people because both arms were unusable (my right arm which was hacked and my left arm was swollen from all the drips and sore). The incident itself opened my eyes to a lot of things. The night I was running around like a headless chicken crying out for help also made me realise how apathetic Malaysians can be.

4. Does the scar still remind you of the incident and how you felt? How did you manage to overcome it?

I guess the scar itself is a reminder of all that transpired. But on the upside, I forget it’s there most of the time because I don’t see it very often. It’s still a weak point, but the yoga has helped so much. I suffered a severe muscular imbalance afterwards and am now going to physio for it. The scar marks the point in my life I changed and grew as a person. It marks a whole new chapter in my life. There are some life-changing events that mark major chapters in one’s life, and for me, this is one of them.

5. Did your experience working within the beauty industry affect how you felt about the scar, or any scars in general?

Not at all. And I’m definitely not opposed to scars – they all tell a very special and unique story. Whether harrowing, happy or sad, each is a tale of survival. They’re like battle scars. In my case, I nearly lost my life getting robbed one night but I lived to tell the tale. A friend of mine had a mastectomy and her scar is a reminder of her hard-won fight against breast cancer. My mom has a massive scar on her belly from a time she got TSS. Like I said, all these scars are stories of survival.

6. Why is it important to celebrate and own your scars?

It’s easy to fall into a pit of depression and self-pity. But when you have the right support system and the inner strength to keep going, your scars can serve as a reminder to someone else too – whether it be to remind someone that it’s okay to opt for a c-sec, or that breast cancer doesn’t always win or even to be more careful and mindful of your surroundings when entering your home. In other words, don’t fall victim to your circumstances. That scar is a permanent reminded of a big hurdle you’ve overcome in your life.

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