“One is not born, rather one becomes a woman.”
— Simone de Beauvoir
This seminal quote from The Second Sex is a striking reminder that one does not become woman simply by being born with female genitalia. Our surround – the context in which we are raised- determines our understanding of “woman” and “womanhood”. In a largely globalized world, where we access not only localized and macro conventions of beauty, what “woman” is then – largely defined in most cultures as pure, unblemished – turns into what “woman” is not.
Woman is not scarred. Woman is complete. Woman is not lacking. Woman fits into the boxes we have created for her; these boxes are made by our very human fingers, and in typical human fashion, we forget that nature is not as willing to mold herself into these boxes. The irony of engendering the most powerful, unbound force we know – nature – as “woman”, and then trying to control her, is lost on us.
In a society that is dependent on a one-size-fits-all instruction manual on how “woman” should be, scars and marks are seen as unnatural. Hidden, attempting to be hid, removed, banished – these scars are as measured as “woman” is. They contribute to the body image issues and generate a negative consciousness of the self, which then impacts the way that women understand “womanhood”. Woman is perfect. Woman does not complain. Woman is not to be heard.
This photo story aims to explore the relationship between scars/marks and self-consciousness in women, as women.
Questions to ask
What is the story of your scars?
What is the image you have of yourself?
Tell me about womanhood. What do you think it means?
What do you imagine womanhood is in relation to your scars?
What is your story now, as woman?
Photographs: Vaishnavi Suresh
Words: Priyanka Sutaria
Edits: Charulatha Dasappa