After My Amputation, Makeup Is Bridging the Gap Between My Missing Arm and Me

After I had my arm amputated, I swapped out my bandages for the temporary tattoos that came with some vintage Lisa Frank valentines I bought on eBay. I know what you’re thinking: those must’ve been some transcendental tattoos! And they were. Not because almost all 24 of them stuck to my skin perfectly despite being manufactured before Y2K was revived (okay, one rainbow dolphin tail was lost to uneven water coverage, an obvious irony.) But more importantly, those tattoos acquainted me with the scars I’d been skillfully avoiding since my arm was removed several inches above the elbow. 

My repulsion towards my scars didn’t stem from any sadness that my arm was gone. In fact, that was something I chose: Several years ago, I had an accident that caused permanent paralysis in my left arm from the elbow down. Ultimately I felt I’d live a more functional life without my ball and chain, so I went through with my amputation last December. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made to set myself free, physically and emotionally. But after the procedure, I felt a bit intimidated by the little arm that remained. 

Applying stickers to my scars.


Even when it’s your decision, losing a limb is weird. I felt afraid of and grossed out by my new scars: one big incision where my arm was amputated, and another nearly three inches long on the inside of my residual limb. No longer wanting to look down at them, I felt tyrannized by my own body. They were (and still are) bumpy and raised, and when someone touches them, it feels like someone’s grasping at the hand I no longer have. Like I said, it’s weird, and it makes it all the more surprising that making them stand out even more would become a form of therapy.

Post amputation surgery, I was doing what anyone might expect of someone recovering from getting their arm cut off: binging the new season of Euphoria. I spent my time wondering if I could pull off the same intricate looks with my own eyeliner, which led me to go digging for the Colourpop face gems I’d purchased after seeing season one’s bedazzled beauty looks. Makeup wasn’t exactly a priority of mine while struggling to readjust post-op; I was barely in the mood to put on matching socks. 

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