Love That Birthmark

October 1, 2012
I remember very clearly how I stopped caring about the way I looked.

I don’t remember the date itself, or the day of the week. It was probably very sunny outside, since it was the middle of summer. I was fourteen or fifteen, something like that.

I walked right up to the Wal-Mart, money in hand, and set out to look for a new bathing suit. I was tired of wearing my mom’s blue one. It was a one-piece, and it was old, but it was pretty in a way. It was cerulean blue with a low back. The belly was frayed from years of use. It worked, but I was tired of wearing it. I wanted my own, you know?

In summer, the bathing suits are displayed right before the entrance of the super store. Neon was in that year, along with patriotic colors and the itsy bitsy bikini from that song.

I didn’t know what I wanted—too many colors! Highlighter pink, or laser lemon yellow? Did I want a bikini top with ruffles? How about blue floral patterns? Maybe just a one-piece to make the decision easier. All those design choices, let’s not even get started on sizes.
I tried on suit after suit, deciding that “this one is too big, this one isn’t big enough, this one makes my butt look weird, oh God why did I pick up this one in the first place?!”

I’d just started high school. I saw beauty on every corner.

I would calmly scan the area as I walked the halls, outwardly admiring this girl’s hair, or that girl’s dress. Pretty bodies stuffed into pretty clothes, and pretty faces painted with unnecessary (but still pretty) make-up.

Inwardly, envy burned like wildfire behind my eyes. Red-hot, viscous, and sickly-sweet… it pumped slowly and thickly through my veins, an uncontrollable lava flow.

I would gaze at the beautiful population and feel entirely out of place. I hissed maybe-ifs under my breath when they walked my way, reciting them like prayers to ward off my personal, beautiful devils. “Maybe if (my body, my hair, my clothes, my face) looked like hers…”
In the dressing room, I pulled on a simple black bikini. It was cheap, and I didn’t have a lot of money, so you know, why not? I looked at myself. I saw a birthmark on my chest. It was pressed over my heart like a thumbprint—that’s how small it was, just a simple, dirty thumbprint.

And to me, it felt like dirt. It was an ugly stain on my skin that could never be wiped away. I was tattooed with an ugly patch on my skin against my will. I hated, hated, hated my birthmark. I hated all of me, actually, but that birthmark was the worst. I was plagued with something that, in my mind, was comparable to the Black Death.

Well… I liked that bikini. There was nothing elaborate about it. It was black. It was two pieces. It wasn’t itsy bitsy. There were no ruffles. It was just… a bathing suit. But I wanted it. I tried it on for my friend, and she liked it. She didn’t say anything about my birthmark.
I eventually bought the bikini. Why? Because I wanted it. Because I felt good in it. Because I finally didn’t care how I looked in it. My birthmark was showing? Oh well.

That one birthmark paved the way for my ride down Confidence Lane. That one birthmark had been the bane of my existence for so many years. And now, it was like… what did I care about the color of a single square inch of my skin? Did I care about the color of anyone’s skin? Did I care about anyone’s scars or varicose veins? Did I care about their weight? Did I care about their glasses or braces?

Confidence is unbelievably fun. It sure is nice to be able to walk down the street and not think, “Why can’t I look like her?” I do not care about my birthmark anymore. I do not think that it is bothering anybody. Nor do I think I am ugly. Nor do I think I am fat. I think, “This is my body, I love it the way it is.”

I won’t lie: I still feel the sting of jealousy every day. But it’s a healthy jealousy, the kind that runs coolly throughout my body, and with every exhale disappears into the wind.

I wonder who is jealous of me.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Hayley S. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 21, 2013 at 10:04 am
I'm sorry I didn't see your comment until now. Thank you very much :)
 
MeepXP said...
Oct. 15, 2012 at 6:23 pm
i loved this, plain and simple. I love it.
 
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