I don’t know how it happened or where it started, but we’ve become this race of weirdoes who can’t tell if we want to condemn a person because of their looks or worship them for the very same reasons.
Case in point: The Kiss My Mastectomy Scars Club.
No, there isn’t actually a real club with this name, but there is this truly disconcerting pity party of an attitude that people have when they come into intimate, affectionate contact with those of us who have unsightly scars.
As for me? I had a mastectomy, which left parts of my chest a bit of a wreck, as well as some real slash-and-dash visuals on my knee, thanks to a whacktastic surgery performed by one scalpel-happy orthopedist.
Photo: Michelle Leman/Pexels
Hey, these were necessary surgeries — they helped my life. But aesthetically pleasing in the long run? I missed that boat.
Let me explain.
Once upon a time, I was in love with this beautiful guy. He’ll probably go down as the number one love of my life, even though he was a complete moron — which is another story altogether.
One day, while we were sort of buttering each other up over the phone, I said to him, “You know, when we meet, I just want you to understand that I’m not exactly built like other women, as in, I had cancer and lost a breast…”
At that point, I must admit, I was a little neurotic about being exposed, so I had no idea what to anticipate as far as his reaction would be; in fact, I went straight into paranoia and imagined him on the other end of the phone to be clutching his throat, gagging, and then making some kind of outrageous excuse to suddenly halt the mad flirtation that we were deeply involved in.
Alas, not only did he not reject me like I was some kind of plague-ridden insect from another planet — he embraced me with beautiful words that softly turned my frozen walls of defense into molten rivers of “hubba-hubba-let’s-get-it-on-nownownow.”
So, there I am, all uptight, thinking that I’m a freak when my super-duper boy toy tells me in the best French accent I’ve ever heard, “I would kiss your scars and I would love it.”
Of course, I blew it by saying, “Yeah, but… I had a mastectomy, I mean, it’s not just a scar, it’s a lack of breast. It’s a surgical site, man. Can you deal with that?”
To which, the darling pie answered, “It only makes you a warrior in my eyes. A beautiful warrior whom I respect. Your war wounds are the most attractive things I can imagine and I would spend hours caressing you here, there, and everywhere.”
Oh Lordy. He loved me. This guy worshipped me and told me every chance he got. Unfortunately, for all of his beauty and kindness, he was equal parts idiot.
We never did meet, but he still calls to tell me how much he loves me and how I will always be the most beautiful woman in the world to him. It makes you wonder.
Honestly, I think he likes the idea of keeping me a fantasy figure; his warrior dream woman, and if I’m honest with myself, I think I like him better as the doting pretty boy lover who makes hot sounds on a phone while we lather each other up with attention.
Reality? Pfft. Overrated.
After I realized that my scars make me come across as this conquering heroine to men who crave strong women, I started to see a bizarre pattern forming: Men who are attracted to me all want to kiss my scars.
Ugh. It’s like, by kissing my scars, they pass some sort of test in their head that allows them to feel like they’re big, compassionate earth gods or something like that.
I started to see that some men — not all — see my scars as a hurdle to get past, and once they toss themselves over that hurdle, they can perceive themselves as good people who did a good thing for a person in need.
The weird part is that so many guys treat me like this. It’s like they need me to be the warrior woman who takes the blows and rolls with ’em like nobody’s business.
They want to kiss that mastectomy site as if it’s some kind of holy relic that will make them into supermen!
But here’s the kicker: I do not require having my scars kissed, licked, worshiped, or healed by your magic touch. It’s not that your intention isn’t appreciated — it is!
However, I’m not broken. I don’t need fixing. I’ve come to terms with my chest scars — they’re no big deal to me anymore.
What I’m really curious about is why all the attention is paid to my war wounds when I’ve got a perfectly awesome other breast, a fantastically functional body, and a sweet fat bottom that makes the rockin’ world go round. Not to mention that I’m sorta pretty, kinda of smart, and a weensy bit funny. Pay attention to the balance, not the debt!
Men, I get it. You’re good guys. You want to do the right thing, you want to try your hand at sensitivity, maybe even go forth with that oh-so-benevolent attitude of expressing your feminine side — got it! Beautiful. Love how hard you try.
But if you’re interested in me — and believe me, I am very grateful for your interest — stop kissing my scars and start paying attention to the parts of me that feel.
I don’t need to be healed, I need to be loved.
Dori Hartley is primarily a portrait artist. As an essayist and a journalist, she can be read in The Huffington Post, ParentDish, YourTango, The Daily Beast, Psychology Today, More Magazine, XOJane, MyDaily, and The Stir.