Hi, I’m Grace. I’m 24, currently live in the South East of the UK, and am half British, half Australian.
I have a BA in Drama and Creative Writing. My preferred beverage is scotch and ginger. I take my coffee pitch black, and super strong. I am a very fast walker. I’m a dairy-free vegetarian, and a cat person. I talk very openly about sex. When asked why I write, I simply say ‘because I can’t not’.
I have blue eyes and naturally ashy blonde hair – although right now it’s bleached to infinity and got some lilac on top. I’m somewhere between 5″6 and 7, when shopping I tend to go for sizes 10-12, I’m quite pale, have size 7 feet and freakishly long fingers – usually decorated with 13 rings. I also have 10 piercings, 12 tattoos… and a couple of big scars from major operations.
In 2014, I had emergency 10-hour surgery to remove an unidentified growth in my brain. In 2015, I had another long operation to remove some more of what was left of the low grade but stubborn tumour, lodged comfortably between my cerebellum and brain stem. I then had radiotherapy five months later, to ensure the little leftover bugger didn’t grow again.
After midnight, when 2015 ended, I made myself a solemn (and possibly drunken) promise that I’d have no major surgery in 2016. It was tough, but I made it!
…only to then have two major operations on my large and small bowels in early 2017.
So yes, I not only have an impressive question mark-shaped scar on the left side of my head, and a sizeable dimple on that side of my forehead (my temporal muscle ‘slipped down’ after the second lot of surgery, they’re fixing that with another op next year – oh, goody!), I also have a 20cm long, smooth and thick pinkish line that carelessly stretches from beside my belly button to just above my, ermm, lower hair line…
Here’s the thing. I’m proud of my scars. They aren’t all of me, but they make me, if that makes any sense to you readers. I have never let my (many) illnesses define me in my very short life, and I never will. I am not my tumour, my infections or obstructions. They are just things that have happened to me. And these scars are the results; the memories imprinted on my skin, only visible to those I deem worthy of knowing me and hearing my stories.
My body is covered in stories. It boasts silver stretch marks on the inner thighs that shimmer in the right light; perfectly round puckerings made by chicken pox and preventative injections respectively. There’s a mole here, a freckle there. Wrinkles on my knees that will never go away, not after a childhood spent climbing trees and balancing on short walls – which would lead to falling, crying, grazing and scabbing.
Then of course there’s ink, the strikingly deliberate art, alongside and in amongst the accidents. Over the years covering myself in beautiful words and intricate designs has been an act of defiance, and reclamation of what’s rightfully mine.
My body is a map of me. A binder of memories, happy and sad and everything in between. I wouldn’t change it, not now. I’d never dream of wiping it clean.
I am very much of the belief that we humans are not bodies with souls, as some older generations may have said. No. We are in fact souls, personalities, light abstract beings, within a body. Our bodies are merely vessels – that being said, we must take good care of them. And feel free to decorate them in any way we wish… provided it’s safe and legal, of course.
Someday, I will leave this world. And I will do so freely, leaving behind the body that represented me and housed me for however many years; my vessel that was perfectly imperfect, covered in life.
Until then, I will continue to encourage others like me who have had tough times that have left marks – inside and out – to own the experiences and grow from them. Wear the scars, and tell the stories.
I recently took part in the incredible Sophie Mayanne’s ‘Behind the Scars’ project; check her out on Instagram @sophiemayanne or @behindthescars_ and see the gorgeous humans who, like me, chose to embrace their imperfections and display them for all to see in a most sublime way. www.sophie-mayanne.com
You can find my portraits for the project (among other things, including books, cups of coffee and the Latter family cat Harvey) on my Instagram: @_gracelatter.)
I have also written about my fabulous body and my love of it many times over on my blog, almostamazinggrace.co.uk. HuffPost UK Lifestyle has launched EveryBody, a new section calling for better equality and inclusivity for people living with disability and invisible illness. The aim is to empower those whose voices are not always heard and redefine attitudes to identity, lifestyle and ability in 2017. We’ll be covering all manner of lifestyle topics – from health and fitness to dating, sex and relationships.
We’d love to hear your stories. To blog for the section, please email email@example.com with the subject line ‘EveryBody’. To flag any issues that are close to your heart, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, again with the subject line ‘EveryBody’.
Join in the conversation with #HPEveryBody on Twitter and Instagram.