One-month old me back when my skin was factory new. 

The first time I skinned my knee, my mom was pissed. Not because I got hurt but because I wouldn’t stop picking at the thick scab in the week that followed. This turned out to be a pattern with me — run, jump, skin, scar — made even more problematic because of my latent tomboyism.

Sure I loved ballet class and my opera singing lessons (seriously) but I was also the girl you asked to “stand right here and don’t move” when testing how high you could launch a minibike over a fourth-grader.

“Someday your legs are just gonna be riddled with marks! A woman’s legs are important,” my mom said to me once, which just illustrates the walking dichotomy that is a disillusioned hippie born in 1952. Little kid me, of course, thought she was just ruining the fun. How can you NOT pick at a scab? Isn’t that what they’re for?

Anyway, by high school and my first pair of Daisy Dukes I got her drift. My legs were, in fact, pretty banged-up testaments to my childhood.

I’ve got an almond-sized keloid on my right leg from the time I went “exploring” in this old shopkeeper’s dusty and unused attic (no, this isn’t a scene from “Jumanji”) and whilst trying to run away and escape detection tripped onto an old chandelier and was stabbed by one of the candle spears. Once Frances determined I wouldn’t die from tetanus, I got grounded.

Above that scar is a fading brush stroke that used to take up half my leg. I’ve had it so long it’s just a part of the package. Apparently when I was three, I ran under an ironing board and a hot iron fell directly onto my leg effectively scaring me for life. On the opposite leg, I have three dime-sized ink blots from a trifecta of Girl Scout camp, Little League and my cousin Damon. There probably isn’t one square inch of my bod that hasn’t got a careless footprint on it.

Still I thought I’d put away the days of “That’s gonna leave a mark” with all my other childhood things like pop rocks and NKOTB. That is until last week when I had an unfortunate incident with some corn on the cob. I thought I was done tatt-ing up my body with dumb mistakes, but not so said the frying pan.


This is my left arm after an angry bubble of olive oil attacked me for no good reason. At first I thought I was fine — cold water, ice, and bacitracin. But after an hour my boyfriend started eyeing the puffing skin just below my elbow suspiciously. “Yeah that’s not gonna be pretty.” Oh and it wasn’t.

It’s funny how something like a “boo boo” is no innocuous on little kids but on adults is more like Exhibit A. Everyone who saw my arm asked what happened in these accusatory tones, as if I’d been doing something more mysterious and dangerous than making dinner. I almost felt bad letting them done with a, “Well I was grilling some delicious corn when…”

So far this new scar is shaping up to be one of my biggest if not boring-est blemish. I thought about making up a kick ass story to go along with it — “So you know what a liger is right?” But clearly being a regular old adult has its own warning labels.

Now you. I wanna hear your favorite scar story. Maybe then one day I’ll tell you all about the first tme I tried to shave my legs. That’s a inch of skin I’ll never get back again.



This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more Helena on XOJane!

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  • Dalili

    I think I may have been 7 or 8. My Grandmum loved to feed the neighborhood dogs left over meat that she cooked in a large cauldron outside her house. The dogs liked to gather in her compound as their meal cooked so there were alot of dogs around. I was outside playing when I noticed a couple making their way towards me. Not being used to friendly dogs(all I’d encountered to this point were ferocious guard dogs…our neighbor had 4 Mastiffs who would have given Cujo a ran for his money) I walked backwards to get away from them and ended up ‘sitting’ in the scalding soup. So my bum is much darker than the rest of my body. :-)

  • afropology101

    My favorite scar is shaped like a little chicken leg a few inches above the top of my kneecap. When I was four, an adult cousin accidentally ran over my legs with his car tire after my 5 year old cousin and I were playing behind his car. I was airlifted to a nearby hospital but never suffered any serious injuries. Surprisingly, I’ve never had any problems with my knees or legs and am a very talented dancer. Maybe because it’s been with me for 21 years but I absolutely love that scar, it’s truly apart of who I am.

  • Yaenelle

    My skin scars very easily and the scars remain, hence I don’t have ‘clean skin’. I always envy those girls who can wear short shorts without worrying about if I should cover it up with makeup.I got my first scar when I was born via C-section. The doctor cut me just under my left butt cheek while cutting my mom. I consider myself lucky beacuse she told another girl born that day was cut under her eye so it could’ve been worse!

    Also a lot of the marks on my legs come from scratching mosquito bites I got while visiting family in Grenada with my grandmother when I was 3. As vain as it sounds, I’ll do my utmost to make sure my kids, espceially daughters, have as few scars as possible. You can be rough & tumble and I’ll slather the Mederma on you after, just because I know how it can affect your self-esteem.

  • Simone L

    When I was maybe 7 or 8, my mom made some cookies and said “let them cool”. Because Simone is a fast one, I looked at them, inhaled, and reached. The pan burnt me, but the scar was the shape of a heart. A small. well shaped heart.It’s gone now, but yup. That heart.

  • So many scars, most of them acquired during my early 20’s from the iron smh… I’m such a klutz.