Last year I was asked if I would appear on the channel 4 show Body Fixers, I considered it but decided it wasn’t right for me.
The name of the show goes against many of my morals and the ethos behind this blog, the idea that you need to fix yourself to look like other people and fit in with a socially acceptable ideal is not for me.
I was told how it would be a great opportunity to raise awareness of Crohns, Colitis and ostomy bags and the fact that it’s currently in the newspaper shows that could have been tha case, but reading this article I know I made the right decision.
The headline is ‘Crohn’s sufferer stunned by amazing transformation after 12-inch scar ‘disappears’ in Body Fixers’ and tells the story of Scott who has Crohns Disease and has a 12 inch scar after surgery. He says that the scar makes him feel self conscious.
He says: “When I first got it, it was quite thin buts it’s got wider, and as I’ve got older its got a lot hairier, and I’ve kind of got to the point where I don’t want to take my clothes off and show it.”
The show uses lasers to treat the scar to reduce its visibility, before using his own blood cells to help regenerate the skin leaving Scott’s scar vastly reduced. He says he is happy with the results.
Now although this isn’t for me, I’m not having a go at Scott, I understand that scars and body changes are hard to deal with, that it does affect your self esteem, but for me the issue is more about looking at the root of the problem, why do we feel the need to “fix” people whose bodies are different to the “norm”?
My body is scarred. Like a LOT of scars. I’ve had 5 surgeries in the past 4 years, I’ve been cut from sternum to pelvis a few times, I have been stitched and stapled together over and over again and my body is covered in shiny scars, some thickened keloid scars.
I have a permanent ileostomy bag and my body has changed beyond recognition. But this is not something that needs to be fixed.
Its not to say that I haven’t struggled with self esteem and to learn to accept my new body, but the idea that I need to be fixed by a tv show doesn’t sit right with me. The idea that my body could be a source of entertainment, a way for people to feel better about themselves, a pity party? That’s not for me.
The line between raising awareness and being fodder for the masses is one that I teeter on often. I get offered a lot of magazines and TV work, and I turn down quite a bit as it’s so important to me that what goes out in my name is something that is respectful to those in a similar situation to me and more and more I find that shows are about using the emotional stories of disabled or chronically ill people to sell their wares.
Sometimes my image and story is used entirely without my permission. Sometimes newspapers tell me they are running a story and I can be part of it or have no say…
Its the nature of the beast I suppose, I put myself out there and once your image and story is in one paper, others feel they have carte blanche to use it too. But that’s a whole other story!
I worry that people will watch the show (it’s on tonight on E4 at 9pm) and look at their own scars and wonder whether they too should be ashamed and self conscious, should they have their scars removed in expensive cosmetic treatment? I worry that people who are feeling vulnerable, who have scars like this man will feel pressured into hiding them away as a source of shame.
This isn’t about one mans choice, it’s about how we simply don’t see people with scars in mainstream tv or magazines everyday. We don’t see people who are happy with their bodies, who are proud of their scars. And so when people with scars are seen with such a negative connotation then that becomes the norm.
Im not against people having treatment to reduce scars at all. But where is the alternative? Where is the show that says ‘hey, your scarred body is beautiful and sexy and wonderful, let’s celebrate it you awesome lovely!’?
My body isn’t perfect. It is scarred and marked and wears an ostomy bag. It has stretch marks and lumps and bumps.
But it is mine and it doesn’t need to be fixed so it’s easier for you to look at.