THIS IS US

Choosing Scars

I’ve always assumed the right to change my body. With the fall of Roe v. Wade, my daughter won’t have that right.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readDec 6, 2021
One of many possible futures. Photo by Bigjom Jom on Shutterstock.

I’ve been thinking, lately, about who I’ve allowed to change my body. I don’t wear a wedding ring, though my husband wears his; I don’t like jewelry. It’s uncomfortable, and I always lose it. I have a tattoo of a rose on my forearm, which I got the day after our wedding. That’s how I carry him around.

We carry each other. All of his tattoos are for members of our family; a moon for our daughter, a lavish portrait of the dog he loves more than any of us, the outline of Ohio on the inside of his bicep — because I’m from there, because we got married there, because (he says) people from Ohio never stop talking about how from-Ohio they are, or putting the shape of Ohio on everything, and he thought it was funny to let me brand him. We both have Tarot cards on our shoulders, Strength for me and The Fool for him, and if I’d realized the message this sent, I would have chosen differently, but we just picked cards we liked.

I don’t imagine this is interesting. Tattoo stories are boring unless you lived them. I’m just thinking about the privilege I’ve always exercised — the right to change my body; to alter it to reflect my experiences — and whether my daughter will be able to understand what that’s like when she’s my age.

My daughter changed my body. She lived in there for the better part of a year; she was cut out of it in an operating room. She likes to ask me about how she was born, and the doctor who got her out of me. She wants proof that it really happened, so I lift my shirt and show her my stomach, and she touches the scar in awe. It’s her origin point, her beginning; the place where we became two separate bodies, after starting out as one person.

That’s something my body can do, create a beginning. It’s a powerful thing. She’s too young to understand the fears attendant on that power. So I don’t tell her: How I got drunk at a Halloween party in my sophomore year of college and had sloppy, lackluster sex with some guy who — I realized immediately afterward — didn’t bother to put on a condom, and how I frantically Googled clinics that had Plan B, and realized that…

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Jude Ellison S. Doyle
Human Parts

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.

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