Here's something we could stop doing. It's simple, and instant, it doesn't require deep introspection or a profound change of belief system. It requires only a little thought and tact:
Stop offering me sympathy for my scars.
Now don't get me wrong, before I continue I don't wish you to eliminate ALL sympathy from your conversations with sick family and friends - just the parts that imply we have something to be pitied for. Buy us flowers, chocolates or kittens after we've had surgery or a nasty procedure by all means! All of that is more than welcome; just don't reassure us we'll be fine 'despite' any new scars or visible changes to our bodies.
When I first had my surgery I couldn't bear to look at my stomach for days, other than for quicker than required cleaning and maintenance purposes - I was repulsed and heartbroken. I couldn't accept I was going to be tarnished with a huge and unsightly scar for the rest of my life. No amount of Cocoa Butter or body scrub would remove this 'thing' I'd been left with.
That was then.
Once I began to heal and see what I was left with (post staples, scabbing and all the usual gruesome goings on), I saw that I had quite quickly realised this was my body now. That it really wasn't that bad because it served as a reminder of where my life was saved. That it was actually quite cool. A battle scar if you will. (Although I don't personally consider being knocked unconscious for several hours much of a battle; I like the sentiment nevertheless).
My issue with people's outlook on my body is where they feel they have to offer me reassurance that I'm still attractive despite my scars. That it can be concealed and hidden if I want and that I don't have to be ashamed. I know all of that, and I'm not ashamed. I'm not ugly because of my scars or otherwise and I'm certainly not intending to hide away for the rest of my life. Quite the opposite.
How can we possibly begin to teach others that our scars are a beautiful part of who we are when we are met with a seemingly automatic negative response? Don't offer sympathy, offer compliments. I'm not disfigured or repellant, I'm merely physically altered. Changed a little. How am I to learn to love myself when I'm led to believe my life-saving scar is unattractive?
Something that serves as a remainder of a terrible time I came through with gusto is deemed to require sympathetic head tilts and 'aww never mind's?
How do I teach children (JK I don't have them) or cats that their 'blemishes' don't make them ugly, or less of a person? How do I explain to my friends who are about to undergo surgery that they won't be abhorrent to human eyes when they come out the other side?
Different doesn't equal unattractive. Just because you have a flat unblemished 6 pack and I have a borderline wobbly and scarred stomach doesn't make me less attractive than you, it makes me different. It shows how unique our life experiences are. Nothing more nothing less.
A once terrifying prospect, my scar now makes me feel strong and powerful. It reminds me of how hard I fought to recover after a horrendous time in my life and that I'm capable of doing the same again when the time comes. I don't need sympathy because I am confident in my own appearance - a scar or 5 doesn't make me any less of a woman, and if I live to 100 and have to endure a 100 more scar-inducing surgeries, the same rule will always apply.