At Princess Eugenie's royal wedding to Jack Brooksbank, the real story began when she turned around.
Wearing a dress with a low-cut back designed by Peter Pilotto, spectators and photographers saw that from the top of her neck straight down her back, Eugenie has a scar. Showing it was no accident, as official reports noted that Eugenie specifically asked Pilotto to design a dress that would display the scar, which is a result of the back surgery she had for scoliosis when she was 12.
Ahead of the ceremony, Eugenie told ITV's This Morning that her decision to show her scar was not only a way to honor the people who looked after her in the hospital, but also as a way to stand up "for young people who also go through this."
Cassie Parish, a 34-year-old parenting blogger living in Essex, England, was one of those people. When she was 15 years old, Parish had corrective surgery for scoliosis that left a scar that runs along her right side, starting at her underarm and ending at her navel.
I know there’s a lot of negativity around the Royal weddings but this one means a lot. I too had #scoliosis and corrective surgery and by choosing not to cover up her scar, #PrincessEugenie is raising awareness and showing young people to be proud of our scars #royalwedding https://t.co/5TKgYL73xb— GorgeousGeorgesMama (@GorgeousGsmama) October 12, 2018
"Princess Eugenie had her operation three years after mine in the same month and at the same hospital," Parish tells Refinery29. "To see Princess Eugenie display her scar with pride on her wedding day is everything. These scars represent the battle we have been through to get to where we are today and they should never be something we feel ashamed of."
Eimear Pedersen, a 35-year-old scientist living in Cork, Ireland, was similarly inspired. With a large scar down the middle of her back and smaller scars across her chest from surgeries when she was 16 to treat a benign bone tumor, Pedersen often hides her scars, going so far as to only wear full back, high-neck swimsuits. So this moment, seeing a princess walk down the aisle with her scar proudly on display, was "very emotional," according to Pedersen.
"She was giving a very powerful message regarding her own strength and resilience and that her view is that her scars are part of what makes her, her," Pedersen says. "It was a very powerful message to young girls that their beauty and achievements will never be defined by the scars on their bodies."
That's exactly the message that Alice Lupton, a 21-year-old executive assistant living in East London, needed to hear today. Just like Eugenie, Lupton has a long scar on her spine from corrective surgery for scoliosis, which she received at the same hospital as Eugenie one week before her 16th birthday.
Five years after the surgery, Lupton still struggles with her appearance. "I would refuse to wear dresses with low or no backs as I didn't want my scar to be seen, which made for a challenge when it came to proms at school, my graduation, and being a bridesmaid," Lupton says. "Nowadays, I still always have to check my back in the mirror to see how my scar looks in the things I wear."
For Lupton, seeing Eugenie's visible scar today hit her particularly hard. "[It] made me feel so, so emotional," Lupton says. "Here's me trying to hide it in dresses when I have a formal occasion, and she's got the courage to wear it on potentially the biggest and most photographed day of her life. What a woman."
"Here's me trying to hide it in dresses when I have a formal occasion, and she's got the courage to wear it on potentially the biggest and most photographed day of her life. What a woman."
Ahead of the wedding, Eugenie told This Morning: "I think you can change the way beauty is, and you can show people your scars. I think it's really special to stand up for that." And the weight of her decision did not go unnoticed. "On a day that is ultimately about her and husband, she is raising awareness towards a condition that is still not particularly well publicized," Parish says. Adds Lupton, "It definitely made me feel more empowered today. I'm not about to show my scar off every chance I get, but as least I'll have someone to look up to if ever I need to."