Vanity, Vanity Part Deux: The Mark of Distinction

Leila has developed a strawberry birthmark on her forehead. It’s a few millimetres across, dark red and quite swollen. Not huge or unsightly (and I’m not avoiding posting a pic, I just don’t have a recent one which “shows it off”, so to speak- though you can see it in the smiley pic on my last post), but enough for people to comment on it before they comment on her lovely face, and enough for people to exclaim “oh nooo! What’s happened to her face?”.  Cue some gulping back of tears from mummy.

Though the birthmark might grow more- a thought which I’m trying not to dwell on- it’s fortunate that it’s not next to her eye or mouth as it could affect her vision or feeding. As far as I know it can’t do any harm and doesn’t hurt her at all. There’s a massive chance that the mark will have completely disappeared before she reaches an age when kids are mean- and if it hasn’t, there’s always the option of a fringe (I rocked one myself as a child), or of course teaching her to be proud of all that she is, and about sticks and stones. Though for her sake I don’t want her to have any reason to learn that adage, ever.So why does it bother me?

Part of it is about feeling protective of my little daughter. I want people to notice her beautiful eyes, her peachy cheeks, her overall beauty, not her birthmark. I don’t want them to think she’s “still beautiful despite…”, I want them to think she’s just as beautiful as she ever was, and is. I want them to see what I see.

But there’s more to it than that- feelings which are uncomfortable to confront. I can’t just hide behind feeling upset about it on Leila’s behalf. After all, she doesn’t give a fig about her “beauty mark” as my mum kindly calls it. She’s too busy learning and growing, and simply being a wonderful child, throwing out smiles like some heavenly Milky Bar Kid armed with grins instead of chocolate. She’s healthy and thriving and big, and so fabulous that sometimes I look at her and nearly fall down on the floor.

And she is still, objectively (ha! But it’s true), so beautiful. I really am being quite dramatic about something which is, even cosmetically speaking, not a major thing. But it does make me sad that although she is perfect, there’s something- something obvious and noticeable- that makes her not “Perfect” in the eyes of the world at large and its dictums of beauty. Since she was born I have taken a slightly sheepish pleasure in having a Hallmark baby, not one of those slightly funny looking ones, but the Johnsons-advert type of baby.  Superficial, no? And I still do have that baby, but if I am being entirely honest, I do wish her birthmark wasn’t there on her beautiful little face. And I’m ashamed of that. How could I wish my baby any different? How could I get hung up on something so superficial as this? How could I let this mar, in however minor a way, the unparralleled joy that Leila brings me? It feels very wrong to be imposing- reluctantly, but still- those learned ideas about how people (babies, even!) should look, which have plagued me and almost every other female, onto my daugher at the tender age of six weeks.

I’m doing my best to build a bridge and get over it. And to realise that if a tiny birthmark is all I have to worry about, then I’m even more blessed than I thought.


4 Responses to “Vanity, Vanity Part Deux: The Mark of Distinction”

  1. 1 Senara March 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Leila is the essence of perfection, and this time I mean it entirely seriously. It is her soul that radiates through her physical body that is so ‘perfect’ for want of a better word. The world is superficial in so many ways and unfortunately they out there will judge her on surface values. However, Leila’s soul is from another place much, much deeper than this superficial world and maybe that birth mark is a reminder to others of her depth and beauty.

  2. 2 pei March 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Yes, what Senara said, PLUS it’s easily covered by a fringe! Honestly bei, she’s gorgeous. Just look at that smile! Good enough to eat. Gorbachev she most certainly isn’t! But you are utterly normal to fret about it, so don’t worry. Can’t wait to see her in the flesh again! xxxx

  3. 3 singlebuteffective March 30, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Having been an owner of not just one but THREE birthmarks for the last 26 years I am here to tell you it is not an awful thing. The only one that is prominent is on my chest (about 4 by 2 inches) and you may or may not have noticed it, though I don’t go out of my way to cover it. Yes, some kids were nasty to me – they said I had a birthmarked boob – but my mother raised me to be confident in myself and it never really got to me. Even as an adult I’ve noticed people looking at it and I’ve had a few negative comments here and there – people will always notice and pick on something that’s different.
    My folks always gave me the option to have it removed but I never saw the point. More importantly, there’s nothing wrong with the way you’re thinking – that is entirely understandable but needless to say Leila is delicious!

    • 4 bokker April 15, 2010 at 7:24 am

      SBE- I’ve actually never noticed your birthmarks. Just goes to show, I suppose. Thanks for the advice and support xx

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