Marked at Birth

Why do "selfies" get such a bad rap? I love selfies. It is usually the only way I end up in the pic.

Why do “selfies” get such a bad rap? I love selfies. It is usually the only way I end up in the pic.

I’m doing so great with my “love my body” and self acceptance lately! I frequently look a myself in the mirror without criticism. I take and post pics of myself with my family and post them on Facebook. I don’t make negative comments about myself or apologize for the space I take in the universe. I’ve even come to like (not yet love) my scars for proving I’ve survived! I’ve made so much progress in this area that I think I’m doing great. Until I’m not. And I’m reminded that I have a lot farther to go and a lot more work to do.

The latest reminder came a few weeks ago when a clerk asked me “What happened to your face?” Let me start by saying that that is not a good question. Ever. If someone has a large green dot on their nose and you are a stranger and don’t know if that is the natural part of their appearance, don’t ask that question.

greennoseI don’t have a large green dot on my nose, but I do have a large red blob above my right eye. It is a birthmark, meaning I was born with it and it is sometimes called a port-wine stain because it looks as if someone spilled red wine on linen. In my life I’ve seen a few other people with similar stains on their face. Some are smaller and less noticeable and others are much larger and much more noticeable. I know mine could be much worse. It is off to the side, not across my whole face, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve aways hated it.

angelWhen I was younger my grandmother told me that the birthmark was so the angels could always find me. I think I believed it for a while, and then I didn’t. I remember my mother was upset that the photographer airbrushed it out of my High School graduation picture, but I was thrilled. Friends and family always tell me they “forget” I have it or don’t notice it but I see it every time I look in the mirror. Unless I wanted to wear heavy concealer makeup (it pretty much bleeds through regular foundation) I am stuck with it.

When I was in my early thirties I had laser surgery to remove it once and for all. It cost over a thousand dollars, was extremely painful, and took several months of going back for multiple treatments. When all was said and done it was almost (but not completely) gone. The last treatment was the worst. The doctor knew I was out of money and he tried to remove as much as he could. My forehead was scabbed painfully for weeks and I had a bad reaction to the prednisone he prescribed.

But it was worth it because, for the first time in my life, I was birthmark free. For a while, anyway. It was cosmetic and superficial, but I loved having a “normal” face. I loved looking at my face and didn’t mind getting my picture taken. But my relief was relatively short-lived.

wine-glass-spilledAfter 5 or 6 years I thought the faint shadow was getting darker. Friends told me it was my imagination, but I was sure that little by little the birthmark was coming back. I knew it wasn’t my imagination the first time little kid asked me, “Hey, did you get hurt?” and pointed a his own forehead. I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. Since then, the birthmark has come back.  It looks different than it did before the laser treatments. Some areas are lighter, some areas are much darker. Even the shape has changed.

And while the people closest to me assure me it doesn’t matter, I can’t help but think that is a lie every time a stranger asks about it. I work in schools so children ask about it all the time. I can sometimes get three or four comments in a day. That bothers me a lot less than when adults say something. I don’t think these adults are being mean. They probably think I’ve been in a car accident or beat up by my boyfriend or something. But really, should they ask?

I probably shouldn’t let it bother me. I should come up with funny responses and laugh about it. But I don’t. I just say it’s a birthmark and then both me and the person who made the comment share an uncomfortable moment. They don’t know what to say or do and frankly, neither do I.

This is my actual birthmark above my right eye.

This is my actual birthmark above my right eye.

I think my birthmark must be getting darker lately (it can change with the weather) because I’ve gotten more than the usual number of comments. So I have my body-love work cut out for me. How can I learn to accept this part of myself that I have never liked?

Do me a favor, okay. Before you write any comments that tell me it’s not so bad or it isn’t noticeable, don’t. It may not be noticeable or important to you, but it is very noticeable and important to me. Instead, tell me about the parts of yourself you struggle with or how you overcame those feelings. Thanks.


9 thoughts on “Marked at Birth

  1. This will seem inconsequential compared to your birthmark but I struggle with the colour of my hair. Stupid right? lol
    I have tried dying it many times but no matter what the hairdressers do my hair won’t take the new colour, and even if it would the upkeep is too expensive for me.
    My hair, I like to call it auburn but in summer when it gets exposed to the sun a lot, it is red. Friends always say “that’s such a great colour”, and yes I know that people spend ridiculous amounts of money to dye their hair to what mine is naturally but people who don’t live with this hair colour as their natural colour don’t get it.
    Because of my hair I have had strangers come up to me when I was a child and yell in my face saying I would grow up to be a liar and a b*tch and other horrible things.
    Because of my hair I got teased and bullied all through school, every single grade. When your hair is bright red (as it was when I was a child) it made me an easy choice for other kids to bully, kids always look for one kid to exclude and that was me, all because of a hair colour.
    There is “kick a ginger day” which I can tell ya, is real, sigh.
    When I am at dragonboat practice in the summer, if I don’t wear a baseball cap people on the side watching the practices will yell out hurtful comments about my hair – from land! Ridiculous!
    I was in what I thought was a good relationship with a guy when I found out his buddies wanted to know if I was a “real redhead” and he gave them deets about me, cause apparently guys always wonder about redheads.
    I’ve had guys try to get me in bed just because I’m a redhead, so that they can say they bagged one, I’m a novelty to them, not a person.
    I could go on but that’d be depressing for me and boring for anybody else to read lol
    I know what it’s like to have something about you that seems to allow strangers to come up to you and ask questions or comment. I also know how hard it can be to reconcile yourself to knowing you will always have that feature and that when you wake up it won’t magically be gone (I spent a lot of my high school years wishing my hair colour away, sigh). Now I just try to deal with it, accept it will always leave me open to attack by idiots, accept I have to second guess a guy’s attention cause he could be looking to add a redhead to his list, accept that it makes me stand out.
    In the end though, I think I’d rather stand out and be a bit more unique than the person next to me in the grocery store aisle than look like everybody else. My hair doesn’t make me who I am, but it helped shape my personality because of what I have gone through due to having it, and I’d say I turned out pretty decent. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny. I’ve always wished my hair was red and I’ve even dyed it red once but that is not the same as living with it. It’s kind of like your other post; how do people have the nerve, the absolute gall, to yell stuff about you or make comments about your personal appearance and think that that’s okay. Where does this even come from?


      • I have no idea where it comes from *shakes head* its as if some people have no idea what their words can do to another person…from kids it can be expected but adults, sigh, they should know better.

        I have a friend who is also a natural redhead, he got teased so much he put watered down bleach in a spray bottle and sprayed it on his hair everyday during high school in an effort to get rid of the colour. Crazy what people will try!


  2. People close to you say they don’t see it because they don’t, they see you. Strangers see it because they don’t know you. When our sister stopped bleaching her hair and went to a natural ash brown for several years I continued to describe her as a blonde, which confused me, because in my head she was, that’s what my sister looked like. So even though her outside changed and you have things on your outside, your closest don’t see it. Which is why we say the things we do which bother you so much. I understand and I’m not trying to continue to say that.

    I always felt like the odd one out growing up. Sure I felt super self conscious about my fat, and lots of things about my appearance, it’s all the bullies and siblings would talk about. Still, there were other things that bothered me more, on a deeper level. The fact that I was one of two in the family without freckles and the only one without a birthmark (I know, not something you want to hear) but it always made me feel like I didn’t belong. And that was stupid, but what a child thinks, because I never once thought my adopted korean brother didn’t belong or didn’t fit (something he struggled with much worse than me I’m sure). So it was really dumb of me to feel like I was the one out of the whole family who was out of place. Looking back now I realize we all look way too much alike, even if most were born with blonde hair and blue eyes, we still could be confused for each other with my dark hair eyes and skin.

    I spent a lot of years hating my arms, sure I was fat and have stretch marks everywhere but the arms I thought were freakishly big, even when I was at my smallest all I saw were fat arms. And yeah, they are fat, but not more than anything else. They were just my focus. So I made them something to conquer. When I started making headway on that to accept that, I could move on to other things.

    My flaws can’t compare though. Being called a whale or fat bitch from moving cars and strangers isn’t the same as someone dealing with a birthmark on their face or burns all over their body. It’s not the same as people with real struggles and I can never understand really what some people have to go through. I can just support and want to throttle every rude clerk out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Runner Down! | Fat 'n Forty

  4. Pingback: Admire Your Reflection | Fat 'n Forty

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s