"You Should Wear This"
My friend held up a sleeveless dress that had been pushed to the back of my closet. A dress that I hadn't worn since being diagnosed with Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), a horrible and embarrassing disease that has left my underarms full of boils and scars. To be honest, I had meant to throw that dress out. I hated that it reminded me of my life before this disease. My closet transformed to one filled with long-sleeve shirts and baggy T-shirts. All of my new dresses had sleeves. I wouldn't be caught dead showing my underarms. Because shaving causes me to have flare-ups, I just stopped. What was the point anyway? I would pretend that this part of my body didn't exist.
I remember looking at my friend with tears forming in my eyes. "I can't wear this," I said as I shoved the dress back into my closet. She knew about my HS, but had never seen the open wounds or the scars. I told myself that she wouldn't have suggested that dress if she had known what lies underneath my shirt. She encouraged me to just try it on. I finally relented. I emerged from the bathroom in the horrible dress, but she didn't even bat an eye. "See? It looks great. Why wouldn't you wear that? Your boobs look amazing in it." I walked over to a mirror. While all I could see were scars peering out from under my arms, she saw beauty. I just stared at her. "This is why I can't wear this dress." I lifted my arms. "So? It's a dark bar. Plus, who cares? It doesn't look bad at all. Have some confidence."
And you know what? I walked out of the house that night in a sleeveless black dress... and my life didn't end. No one commented on my appearance or seemed to even notice the scars. For a few minutes, I even lifted my arms as I danced to a song. I now wear sleeveless shirts on the weekends when I'm running errands or hanging out with friends. It's still hard to wear them to work (I'll always wear a cardigan, even if it's 90 degrees out), but it's all about baby steps. My scars remind me that I'm fighting everyday to beat this disease — and I'm not going to let it win.
The sleeveless dress now hangs in the front of my closet. For those nights when I want to just let loose and show my true self, scars included.
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