Talking Body, Scars and Survival with Hips & Curves

I have a long history of being broken and put back together. My body is a remade thing. Injury, surgery, near-death, recovery. Those are signposts along the path of me.

I met Yi Shun Lai when we taught together at the #Write2theEnd Spring WriteAway Retreat earlier this year. Teaching alongside Yi Shun was an amazing experience, specifically because we had been matched up by the retreat facilitators using a yin yang method. I am known for a deeply nurturing teaching style, and Yi Shun is known for her direct, bright and energetic approach to craft. We balanced each other, adding depth when needed and lightening loads where necessary, and all on our first meeting.

Like me, Yi Shun is an editor. She works for more than one publication, and before we parted ways, she requested I write a piece on body for Hips & Curves, a plus-size lingerie site that has a blog for all bodies. The request came from a conversation about my scars, how I hide them, and how I have worked to come to a place of physical acceptance.

I have always been afraid of the rigid, ropy marks on my body even though they are literal signs of my survival. Of my ability to overcome.

It took me far longer than I expected to produce the essay. It was a hard topic. In many ways, it remains so. There were several self-judgments I needed to break down in order to share my body with the world via writing. I sent her the piece, not certain it would be what she wanted at all, but comforted by the knowledge that I had truly shown up for myself in its writing.

She accepted it. I want to share it with you as well. It went up on the Hips & Curves blog yesterday and has had more one-on-one interaction (on Facebook) than most pieces I have shared there. It surprises me, but maybe it shouldn’t. Most women I know struggle with physical self-acceptance in one way or another.

The gym is hot today and my tank top sticks. I can feel a rash arising on one side.

Betsy, gym manager and near-constant presence at Hoosier Athletic Club, tells me to take it off. She wants me comfortable.

“Just take it off,” says Betsy. But I won’t.

“Are you afraid of scars?” I ask her.


Everyone has a story. Mine is of falling apart and being put back together. If you make a timeline of my life, you will see me break and reassemble on repeat. On my body, you will see that the reassembly comes at a price.

Read more of my story here, on the Hips & Curves blog. Leave a comment here or there. I’d love the support on this sensitive writing. I’d love to know your story.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

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