Eugenie: ‘You can show people your scars’

Skin deep: Princess Eugenie has a scar on her back from surgery she had when she was 12.

Has Princess Eugenie redefined beauty? The royal bride has been praised for showing off her scar with a plunging bridal gown. She hopes her body positive message will inspire others too.

“You can change the way beauty is.”

These are Princess Eugenie’s lasting and uplifting words from her royal wedding on Friday.

It was all about Eugenie’s dress. Its plunging back exposed a long thin scar: the result of an operation she underwent when she was a child to treat scoliosis — a condition which causes the spine to bend to one side.

But rather than hiding the scar, she chose to show it off: “it’s a lovely way to honour the people who looked after me and a way of standing up for young people who also go through this,” she said.

The Princess also hoped that her actions can address society’s unrealistic beauty standards: “you can show people your scars,” she insists.

Scars come in many different shapes and sizes, and the impact they have is more than physical. A 2013 study described how scars can cause “social and psychological distress”.

Princess Eugenie’s attempt to fight this distress was widely celebrated. “An important message to young girls and boys,” declared The Telegraph’s Danielle Sheridan. “With the rise of Instagram and social media, children have never been under so much pressure to look perfect.”

Has Princess Eugenie redefined beauty?

Eu-genius

Of course, some say. With Instagram filters and airbrushed adverts, modern culture pressures young people to subscribe to unattainable beauty ideals. Princess Eugenie is saying the opposite: we must celebrate ourselves, no matter how we look. In fact, it is our “imperfections” that make us who we are.

Not necessarily, others respond. The Princess is admirable, but there is a long way to go. Sadly, many people will go out today and be judged for their appearance, weight or skin colour. Furthermore, the bridal tradition itself still evokes old-fashioned and constricting ideas. Beauty needs a more radical rethink.

You Decide

  1. Has Princess Eugenie redefined beauty?

Activities

  1. Using your own words, define the term “beauty”. As a class, discuss the definitions that you come up with. How are they similar or different? As a group, can you agree on a definition that is satisfactory for everyone?

Some People Say...

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

Confucius

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank was broadcast live on ITV and was watched by 3.9 million viewers — trebling the channel’s usual audience for the time slot.
What do we not know?
There are not precise figures for the number of people who suffer from scarring. However, extensive anecdotal evidence suggests that the emotional impact of scars can be considerable.

Word Watch

Royal wedding
Princess Eugenie of York is the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II and ninth in line to the throne. She married Jack Brooksbank, a wine merchant and former nightclub manager.
Dress
Designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos of British-based label Peter Pilotto.
Condition
It most often develops in children between the ages of 10 and 15. Three to four children in 1,000 require specialist treatment.
Study
“Psychological impact of scars,” by Katlein França and published by Nova Science Publishers.

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