~By Cynthia, 17, Scoliosis Warrior
Hey, everyone! It’s been a little while since I last posted an article, but it’s good to be back. Starting now, I’m hoping to publish an article every month about what’s going on in the scoliosis community. This month, I wanted to do a more personal piece, instead of a medical article or something like that. Recently, in October of 2018, Princess Eugenie got married to Jack Brooksbank. Now, unless you knew about the wedding and why I’m writing about it today, those names mean nothing to you. These aren’t the most famous royals, to me at least. I hadn’t ever heard of Princess Eugenie until my mom told me about her. To me, and many other scoliosis patients, this wedding is not exciting because it is royal. Rather, the excitement is over Princess Eugenie and her dress. Wedding dresses are one of the most visible and important parts of the wedding. Princess Eugenie had a beautiful dress, but it was especially beautiful because it showed off her scoliosis scar. She picked an off-the-shoulder dress with a low back specifically for that reason.
Now, for some backstory. Princess Eugenie is currently 28 years old, and was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11. Whether or not she wore a brace is unclear, but she had to surgically correct the scoliosis at age 12. According to Eugenie, the most jarring part was the fact that her life would essentially be put on hold while she recovered, and not the fact that she would have a scar from the operation. After the operation, she had to wear a neck brace, and was very frustrated because she couldn’t move or play with her friends. Scoliosis doesn’t just go away after you’ve had a surgery, though. There is always a lasting reminder of what you went through in the form of a scar. Eugenie was apprehensive about showing hers off at first, but later grew to be proud of it. She became so proud, that she told her wedding dress designers that her scar absolutely had to be seen, and they came up with the dress we saw at the wedding, highlighting her scar beautifully.
Before I begin to share my own personal thoughts, I want to share something interesting. The woman who wrote the article I got my information from, Danielle Sheridan, also had scoliosis. In the article, you get pieces of Ms. Sheridan’s testimonial, intertwined with the story of Princess Eugenie, making the retelling that much more personal and real. She talks about feeling left out and the troubles that come with wearing a brace. She was the perfect person to do the interview and write that article. Most of us can identify with Danielle and Eugenie. We know the rigidness of a brace, and the feeling of confinement that comes with it. We know the feeling of uncertainty as you head into the operating room, not knowing what you will be like on the other side. We can identify with these people in our own ways, and that is so important in our materialistic culture. To see a well-respected woman publicly show off her scar with pride is amazing. She is someone we can point to and show young scoliosis patients, telling them that their journey can bring them a sense of achievement. We can tell young patients, and ourselves, that scars should be celebrated. “Look at Princess Eugenie on her wedding day”, we should say, baring her scar to the world with a sense of pride, and the knowledge that she is a role model for so many others by doing so.
My scar has always been something that I was eager to show off, even before I got it, but I know that that is not the case for some. To those who hate their scars, or can’t stand the way they look in their brace, or feel like the pressures of society to look a certain way are stifling, look to Princess Eugenie. Even though she was brought up as a royal, and lived a far different life than most of us did, she still found the courage to show an imperfect part of herself to the world. I won’t tell you it gets better, because that means nothing from someone who’s already through the hardest part and has been for a while, but try to look at Eugenie and have hope. Even if you aren’t there right now, look at her and realize that it is possible to be proud of what you’ve gone through.
I may have gone off on a bit of a tangent, but I felt it was important. Eugenie, by doing something so simple as wearing a low-backed wedding dress, has become a role model. I wish I would’ve seen this when I was younger, but I’m thrilled that other young patients will get to see it. It’s important to have scoliosis represented, and huge to have this representation on a worldwide scale. So, to Princess Eugenie, I say thank you.