Princess Eugenie Put Her Scoliosis Scar On Full Display On Her Wedding Day, Inspiring Others

"I think you can change the way beauty is ... "

Scars often make people feel self-conscious and insecure. Yet, while some perceive these marks as signs of weakness or damage, Princess Eugenie of York wore her scoliosis scar as a badge of strength and bravery on her October 12 wedding day.

At age 12, the Queen's granddaughter had major surgery on her back to treat a curvature of the spine. Now, 16 years later, the newlywed specifically chose a wedding dress that put her scar in full display as a way to honor those who helped her and inspire others with the same condition.

"I had an operation when I was 12 on my back, and you'll see on Friday [at the wedding], but 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 told ITV's This Morning.

"I think you can change the way beauty is, and you can show people your scars and I think it's really special to stand up for that," Princess Eugenie added.

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According to the Mayo Clinic website, "scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty." While most cases of scoliosis are mild, some children develop spine deformities that worsen as they grow. Doctors often choose to intervene in severe cases, as scoliosis can cause some to become disabled in extreme situations. Although scoliosis most commonly impacts children ages 10-15 years old, only three or four children in 1,000 need treatment.

"During my operation, which took eight hours, my surgeons inserted eight-inch titanium rods into each side of my spine and one-and-a-half inch screws at the top of my neck," Princess Eugenie told the Royal National Ortopaedic Hospital. "After three days in intensive care, I spent a week on a ward and six days in a wheelchair, but I was walking again after that." 

"Without the care I received at the RNOH I wouldn't look the way I do now; my back would be hunched over. And I wouldn't be able to talk about scoliosis the way I now do, and help other children who come to me with the same problem," she adds. "My back problems were a huge part of my life, as they would be for any 12-year-old. Children can look at me now and know that the operation works. I'm living proof of the ways in which the hospital can change people's lives."

While many were confused by Princess Eugenie's appearance, as it's customary for members of the Royal Family to wear a veil on their wedding day, the public exploded with praise for the newlywed once they learned the real reason the princess threw tradition to the wind.

Actress Melissa Joan Hart, for instance, posted an image of Princess Eugenie's back on her Instagram, where she wrote: "We are all imperfect, even princesses and celebrities, so embrace our differences and don't let your physical condition define you."

People with their own scars were also quick to commend Princess Eugenie. While many admitted they hide their scars because they're afraid of what others might think or say, many echoed Princess Eugenie's sentiment, reinforcing the message that scars are beautiful. As Dawn Hancock McKay tweeted, "scars are just tattoos with a better backstory."

Cover image via WPA Pool / Pool / Getty Images Entertainment

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