“Where did you get that ugly mark on your back?”
The question wasn’t asked to hurt me. It had no malicious intent. I could even tell she regretted the words as soon as they left her mouth. But still, I mumbled a quick response, took off to the bathroom and locked the stall behind me before I let silent cries rack my entire body.
For the next week, I repeatably scolded myself for bending over at work and allowing my shirt to ride up enough to show the mark, my skin condition, morphea, left on my back.
Then, for the millionth time, I researched how likely it is that I will ever get one of those devilishly ugly brown rough skin patches on my face.
Not likely, but possible… but that isn’t really the point, is it?
So far, I have two scaly brown patches on my body. One is on my back, and the other is on my arm. They’re about two inches wide and one inch tall. I let 6 inches of imperfection make me cry. Some days, I let it define me. Other days, I find other imperfections on my body to define me.
Sometimes it’s my weight. Other times it’s the way my clothes fit, or my frizzy hair, or the stray hairs outside of my eyebrows. Some days it’s as superficial as not being able to get my makeup to look like the girls in tutorials. The absurdity of that hits me hard. I’m actually upset that I can’t make myself look like someone else. I consider it an imperfection. I consider that because I can’t add a fake glow to my cheekbone, I’m ugly.
Society has made their standards clear. As a woman, I need to be skinny, but not too skinny, and definitely not fat. I need to have size D breasts, but they can not be saggy. I can’t leave the house without makeup, but I can’t wear too much either. I need to buy a 100 dollar flat iron to smooth out my frizzy hair. I need to purchase every cream on the market to get rid of my stretch marks, and I definitely need to hide any random ugly mark on my skin I develop over time.
Except I’m not going to. At least not anymore. Because the other day multiple thoughts invaded my mind, and for the first time they were useful, and not hurtful. They came over me in a rush that I felt throughout my entire body, and they might be the most important thoughts that have ever entered my mind.
Like so many times before, I was turned around with my back facing the mirror peering over my shoulder and glaring at the mark my coworker had called ugly. But where usually, I would had felt my insecurities rise, I thought about the week before, and what my coworker had said, and then, a laugh bubbled out of me.
“It really is ugly,” I said out loud. Then, the rush of valuable thoughts about my imperfections washed over me… You know what? It’s three inches big. I have another one? So what. Six inches total.
I am more than six inches of imperfection. I’m more than a stupid number on a scale. I’m more than a few stray hairs between my eyebrows. I’m more than frizzy hair and makeup that isn’t perfectly painted on to my face.
I’m more than any imperfection on my entire body. And even if, one day, my entire body is coated in scaly brown patches, I will still be more.
I’ve accepted the way I look, and not because I think I’m the most beautiful woman on the planet, but because I can’t change it. And what’s even better is I don’t need to, because I’m smart, and I’m funny. I’m real, and I’m genuine. I’m loving and caring, and understanding.
I’m living, and I’m healthy. I’m strong, and I’m powerful. So powerful, I’ve decided to stop caring what the rest of the world thinks, and just be happy with me.
I don’t need to be beautiful, because I am so much more, and an insignificant imperfection on my body can’t change that.