Summer is the season to show some skin. The images of bikini clad vixens and shirtless studs are impossible to avoid if you surf the web, watch a little television, or simply stand in line to buy your groceries. The idea of working towards and achieving the ideal “summer body” is pretty much all around putting on the pressure for us to bare it all. As a result, if you want to show off your bod as the sun graces us with it’s rays because you’ve worked hard to attain your hopefully healthy goals (or you just feel confident in your own skin)… kudos!

But what if you’re a cutter?

When a person cuts, it’s unlikely that they are considering what the future scars will look when they hit the beach in their new, sexy swimsuit. Cutters are more likely thinking about a way to manage the pain and suffering they are experiencing due whatever personal challenges they are facing. This is not to say that people who engage in the act of cutting aren’t mindful of what they are doing and how they are doing it. Most cutters very intentionally inflict wounds in places that others can’t see such as their arms or their thighs that are typically covered by their clothing. Eventually though, this can become an issue as things heat up.

Turns out there are plenty of resources out there teaching people how to cover their scars. From YouTube videos to wikiHow, a cutter can use a variety of techniques to make their scars discreet while being able to appropriately dress to the warmth of summer. And why not go through these measures? It makes total sense to want to hide the scars based on the negative emotions attached to each cut – sadness, despair, guilt, shame, anger, rage.

However, there is another approach regarding the scars from cutting, and that is to not hide them at all. Showing the world cutting scars can be empowering. Scars are a part of a cutter—past, present, and future. They were a way to cope when things were difficult, and they remain on the body to remind a cutter of how much he or she has overcome.

The choice to hide or to show one’s scars from self-injury can be challenging, but it is one that cutters make for their own reasons. Whatever you opt to do this summer, make sure that you are comfortable with your decision and know that there are people available to support you (whether they be your friends, family, community, or a mental health professional).

“Other times, I look at my scars and see something else: a girl who was trying to cope with something horrible that she should never have had to live through at all. My scars show pain and suffering, but they also show my will to survive. They’re part of my history that’ll always be there.” – Cheryl Rainfield, Scars

– Jessica Tang is a MFT Intern at KISI