Thursday, 14 July 2016

Birth Marked or Scarred?

So this might not be a topic to which many of you will have given much thought- I mean, unless you are directly affected by it, why would you? But I would appreciate if you would read on because it might help some people out there... maybe even you.

Since I joyfully shot out my mum's birthing water slide, I have had these continent shaped, red marks stretching across my right leg/lower back. And I would like to finally introduce them to the world. World, meet port wine stains, ala Emma. These birthmarks are surprisingly common, roughly 3 in 1,000 babies will be born with them, but most mothers choose to wipe their baby's young slate clean and have them removed. But my mum didn't want me to put me through that kind of pain when the marks were totally harmless. So she let me roam free after my 9 months of solitary womb confinement. Fair enough mum, fair enough!

And to tell you the truth, when I was younger I didn't really give them much thought. Like anything else on your body that you are born with, you are sort of just used to it. Just like you accept that you have elbows and eyelashes, I accepted my tinted skin. Young kids are pretty accepting of themselves before other people decide that "nope, you're different and I don't like it." The word different becomes interchangeable with words like weird, ugly and even ew. That in in itself is pretty sad that we are automatically programmed to see difference as a hinderance, not simply as individual. Society is really going to have to get their shit together with that. Just a reminder...

It wasn't until I noticed other people's lingering (not longingful) glances, and a few uncomfortable comments that made me realise that I was just a little bit different. And by uncomfortable, I mean being told that I looked like the midwife had thrown me down the stairs and into some fire after being born, nice huh? And as a self-conscious teenager, this revolution was not welcomed. The more I realised other people noticed these blotches, the more I did. I didn't/don't know how to accept that I am different. And it isn't the most convenient thing to change; it would take many months of painful laser surgery that would set me back £3000. But my money tree has never been that well endowed, and I half fainted when I got my ears pierced (at the embarrassing age of 18), so maybe not.

We all have stuff we are self conscious about: spots, dandruff, body hair, the list goes on indefinitely. But for the most part, you stumble through these insecurities with the somewhat comforting knowledge that 'at least i'm not the only one' or 'maybe i'll grow out of it'. But I didn't know anyone with this kind of skin, I still don't, so how does one find comfort then? Well, I am still figuring that one out. But what I am settling on for now is (and I think it's pretty good), just to work towards being truly, deeply, accepting of your own and other people's differences, quirks, abnormalities and 'flaws'. That word, 'flaws', I didn't want to have to use it, and damn it, i've used it twice now. I don't want to see my differences as a flaw, or for that matter, anyone else's.

So, I've shoved in this debut of my port patches as a first literal step toward self acceptance. Not using any editing to try blur them out, or standing like a mermaid with my right leg tucked in the back (which never looks cool and I really need to stop). I hope that one day when I search on youtube 'port wine stain pride', that there will be even one video that isn't outlining their journey through laser surgery removal.

I hope that my feeble attempt to spread a good message about body positivity in reference to me and my body's little journey goes some way to comforting even one person, or altering the mindset of another - however slight. So if you see someone who looks a little different the next time you're out, it's fine to look, notice, acknowledge, but instead of staring and making that person feel like a walking exhibition, just think for a second. Take your eyes off of them, think about your automatic thought process that may have led you to a slightly judgemental conclusion. Hold a mini celebration up in that gorgeous brain up there and just accept them, and take it as encouragement to accept yourself that little bit more.