Apr 5, 2011

The Scar

Photo by Ian Vollmer

Many of you know or have seen the long scar running six inches vertically down my stomach. I don't think about the scar much, in fact, 99% of the time it barely registers in my mind. I've grown so accustomed to seeing it every time I look in the mirror naked that I've honestly forgotten about it much like the tattoos on my forearm and on my back. So it is surprising and slightly thrilling when new audience members notice it for the first time.

I know many of you wonder how I got it. Performers often ask once they get to know me better and know I wouldn't feel offended talking about it. I wish I could say that I got it in an alley fight over a man, a drunken brawl over rhinestoned stilettos, a gang fight defending a friend's honor, or some such. But alas, the truth is no where nearly as glamorous or exciting as the fiction in my mind. I got the scar because of obstructed bowel. What that means is a foot of my intestines got tangled around old abdominal scar tissue (appendicitis in my case from when I was 8) and then became strangled. Once it was strangled, it blocked everything in my intestines from moving regularly and thus the obstruction. Unfortunately for me, I thought it was food poison so stayed home for 3 more days before realizing that something was seriously wrong when I looked in the bathroom mirror. I was breaking out in torrential sweat even though I felt extremely cold, my face was pale, and my stomach was distended. I couldn't even hold water down. My boyfriend at the time had no experience with anything like this either so he was no help. The pain, oh my god, was worse than anything I've ever experienced and it came in wave after wave. Finally I called the ambulance at 3am and it took me to Cabrini Hospital in the East Village. They mis-diagnosed me and sent me home with some Ibruprofin believing that it was a case of food poison as well. Cabrini has since been shut down, hooray! I went home for another two days before Dwight Yokam told me I was dying.

I KID YOU NOT. In my fever, pain, and cold sweating, Dwight Yokam who I have never listened to or know anything about, told me in a hallucination that I was dying and had to call 911 ASAP. I did. This time they took me to Beth Israel Hospital. Fortunately the staff there knew I was in a bad place and triaged me accordingly. I had no health insurance at the time either. They sent me to surgery immediately, opened me up and removed the entangled and dead intestine (over a foot long!). I was in ICU for another week, then another week sharing a room with a few random old ladies while waiting for my intestines to reconnect and get going again. Meaning, every morning, a group of HOT male doctors would come in and ask me if I've pooped or farted yet. When you can do either of those activities, it means your bowels are functional again. Talk about humiliating...

So that's how I got my scar. Also for those who are not familiar with scars, C-section scars run horizontally from hip to hip, not vertically.

Recently one of my Asian fans (I seem to have a large Asian fan base) posted on Facebook a picture of me performing with my arms raised high and my scar full-frontal. That picture generated a long thread of comments from his seemingly all-Asian friends (I am assuming based on their last names). It was surprising to me to read that almost all the women thought a naked woman with a scar should not be showing her "defect" publicly. One woman wrote, "ew..." Another girl wrote something about how she did not want to see something like that. And another simply wrote, "whoa..." which could be construed as positive, I guess. Then there was a debate about whether I was hot or not, but discussed in a way that was not a personal attack - simply more about whether a marked body should be displayed in public. The "standard of beauty" phrase was thrown around. Many of the male commentators were pro-scars and wrote things like, "Girls with scars are sexy...lol" and "There is a standard for beauty globaly. Sure Confidence and feeling secure about one's self helps, but we can't ignore the fact that some women have it and some have not." And lastly my favorite, "Of course ,there are exceptions too. For instance, a girl might look good to a man and look ugly to another man's eyes. That is why there is a saying 'Beauty is to the eyes of be holder...'" Oh, and another guy wrote that he thought I looked like a man. That was new and I've never heard of that one!

To my fan's credit, he artfully defended the art of striptease and "alternative" ideas of physical beauty to the end. I have a feeling that among his friends he is the "crazy, artsy" one who introduces the rest to events they typically would never experience or have prejudices about. Go! XXXX FAN!

The thread of comments ended when I jumped in. If you're going to talk about me, I will talk back. Quite frankly, I was excited that my scar generated such a controversy. I wrote, "For the record, my Chinese mom also thinks its odd that I would want to show off my scar. It's a common traditional way of thinking, and I don't abide by that. I've never abid...ed by anything conventional or common. The scar was was an obstructed bowel surgery I had 8 years ago where I almost died. To me it's a big FUCK YOU to conventional ideas of beauty, and like I always say in my show, if you don't like what you see, the door is right there. Thanks XXXX for being such a great supporter."

I'm not impervious to negative comments and insecurities. There have been times when private event promoters ask to see pictures of me beforehand, and there is always that moment of doubt when I wonder if my scar makes me less desirable and appropriate for their event, or if my scar literally "marks" me and my acts as more "sideshow" for "edgier" venues. Although I've never felt ashamed or embarassed by it, I do sometimes try to put some cover-up makeup on it. It doesn't do anything anyway so I've stopped doing it. I suppose part of putting yourself out there in public is knowing that people will talk and "opine" (my shortened version of opiniate). We do it to celebrities all the time. We do it to people on television. Any one who is in the public eye for whatever reason. We criticize. We judge. We talk about whether so-and-so is ugly, fat, too skinny, shouldn't be dating this or that, on and on and on. For most part its fun talk. But the desire and drive are there in everyone. I understand that and I'm not afraid.

Cause what can ya do? The scar is on me. It's a part of me. I can't get rid of it. I can't cover it up cause I'm too lazy and cheap to spend money on cover-up makeup. It's my life history mapped on my body. Take it or leave it. The exit door is there.

Me & My Controversial Scar






14 comments:

  1. I'm not sure whether I even noticed the scar the first time I saw you perform. But eventually I did, and I thought, well that's unusual.

    Now I barely notice it. (Teehee, I said barely.)

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  2. I must admit I have wondered about your scar. You are damn lucky to be alive. So it's a battle scar, an award for your will to survive. Now, as it turns out I may have a similar scar over my heart, in the not too distant future. I wonder if people will be as forgiving of me. That is if I can even continue to perform.

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  3. I have a pretty scar on my right wrist from where I was bit by a "friendly dog who would never bite anyone, go ahead and pet him."

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  4. Part of what I like about burlesque is that it's about real bodies and real people.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your story about the scar. It is one of the many things that make you a wonderfully unique person, and although it was a very difficult experience, I'm sure that it gives you a perspective that others may not have.
    I wish that we could all embrace our unique characteristics they way you do and tell people to F-off when they don't respect our differences. (Who the hell do they think they are to judge you for having a scar??) I can only hope that the more we publicly flaunt our body parts with grace and confidence (especially the parts that do NOT conform to the socially-accepted ideal), the more people will broaden their narrow definitions of beauty.

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  6. I really love the loooking of your body and the scar is a part of it.

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  7. Hi! You are so unbelievably brave to show off your scar and I think its so beautiful that you accept it and flaunt it! I am 21, have a scar very similar to yours, except it is horizontally in the middle of my stomach, covering over half my body. I've had it since the 2nd day i was born from a surgery, then i had 3 more to follow, so the scar tissue ddnt heal well. I have never been comfortable showing it off and have always kept it hidden, even from my family. But i am tired of being self-conscious,tired of wearing ugly one-pieces,mortified by letting a guy see my scar, and im tired of being afraid all the time. I want to be comfortable with it and show it off, but I am still scared and dont know how not to be. How did you become so confident?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous, Thank you for taking the time to share your story with my readers. It sounds like a really scary surgery you had when you were born, but you have your life and relatively speaking, there could be worse complications! Now that I said my "Mother Chang" piece, I will say that I am not always confident and want to show off my scar. But whenever I start to feel self conscious, I stop myself and think about how lucky I am that I didn't die that day during surgery or from post-surgery complications. I was in ICU for a full week, barely cognizant.

      I also accept my scar as a part of me. Like my eye color. Or my height. The size of my hands or feet. These are physical attributes that one can't change so I learned to stop thinking about my scar as something that I can get rid off or alter. I DO think however you can put vitamin E oil on the scar or other scar softening cream, if that helps you feel less self conscious about it. For me, it wasn't the scar that at times make me self-conscious but more how dark the skin is around there.

      Lastly, there are many unfortunate lives in the world with worse problems than our dermal scars...so I really do think my "flaw" is superficial and I encourage you not to loose anymore sleep over it. Plus, you know what, guys think girls with scars are totally sexy!

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    2. Thank You so much for putting things into perspective for me. I am going to try to embrace my scar for what it is: a daily reminder of how i overcame many things in my past and am alive today , in order to help other ppl less fortunate. I know it will still take a while to get used to showing it off and dealing with the stares, but I will look to it as a challenge :) . AND seriously, I thank you so much for replying and helping me out! I dnt know anyone who has a scar like mine, so it is completely amazing that I was able to talk to someone about it, who understands. I thank you with my entire heart <3

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  9. I really like your show and the way you perform. I think the scar looks cool. But I have a question... do you have a bellybutton?

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    1. Yes the belly button is still there! The doctors went around it when they made the incision.

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