Precocious scars, visible and beautiful: an example from Princess Eugenie

Princess Eugenie

‘I wanted my wedding dress to show my scar’

A great story on the BBC today about Princes Eugenie and the presence of scars. Actually a pretty simple and beautiful gesture that is deceptively powerful. We all have scars – some visible and invisible – and showcasing them is really quite poetic and one simple way to address stigma in healthcare. These are designerly acts not done by designers and revolve around harnessing the power of simplicity and poetics, and I’m fascinated by how these are done both individually and on a community level when we ALL start doing them. Something about #metoo was transformative, but also from a point of pain; somehow the act of showing a scar beyond sharing an narrative takes the power of this something to another level. It’s Kintsugi with flesh that seems to showcase both ‘strength and vulnerability’ at the same time, and I’d love to know the word for that dual simultaneous nature.  How much of our stigma and assumptions of strength are shaped by Western standards and culture around beauty, vulnerability and perfection and what we show in public or not?

It’s also interesting to note this is another story of the Royal family in the UK, who have been doing a great deal of work in addressing stigma and mental illness, including starting a charity around mental health and work  Prince Harry in particular has been remarkably open about his experiences after grief losing his mother, an example of one of the most massive outpourings of collective grief in the modern era.  The multiple threads of these stories can transcend dualities – vulnerable vs. strength, individual vs. collective, visible vs. invisible, and perhaps by embracing their complexity we can transcend how we think about human experiences and scars to begin with.  More the a specific design ‘precedent’, this is a micro-moment and declaration of something beyond design – to just existence and celebration. ‘I think you can change the way beauty is’, Princess Eugenie notes.  Indeed, you can, and have, and for that, thank you.

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