I’ve written a little about this topic before, but today I’m doing to do an entire piece dedicated solely to my deformity, my brand – my Birthmark.
Ever since I can remember, my Birthmark has made me a target. At primary school I was mercilessly bullied for it. Someone even asked my mum if she’d hit me over the head with an iron. My own brother nicknamed me ‘strawberry head’.
At secondary school, the comments about it were still there, only more secretive, more bitchy. I’d overhear nasty comments or hurtful rumours and pretend that they didn’t get to me, but as a teenager no one wants to hear this about them self:
“Which Jess are you inviting on Saturday?”
“The pretty one, the one without the thing on her head.”
You’d think as I progressed into adulthood that these things wouldn’t happen, that people would learn to live and accept and simply shut up, but you’d be wrong. I can vividly remember working on a till at a supermarket aged 19 as a mother and her adult son listed all the different horrific accidents my Birthmark looked like it had happened in. My personal favourite is “it makes you look like you’ve gone through a car window head first.”
Another personal favourite from the yet another adult is “why don’t you go on that show Too Ugly For Love?” What a confidence boost that was!
Yes, this Birthmark makes me a target. It’s something that people seem to think they have the right to comment on, to enquire about, to joke about. To them it’s something different, but to me it is the bane of my life that is slapped across my forehead shouting “say what you want, it’s not like she has feelings anyway!”
My birthmark controls me more than I would like it to. It’s like my own personal mood ring. If I’m upset or angry, it glows. If I’m embarrassed it flares, and if I’ve cried my Birthmark glares an angry red for hours after. There are no secrets allowed when you have an angry red mark on your forehead that screams out for attention.
Sometimes I forget it’s there. My partner tells me I’m beautiful, and I believe him. My friends comment about how nice I look and I simply take the compliment instead of questioning it. I’ve learnt how to be clever with makeup, to (mostly) conceal it. Sometimes, in certain lights, you could look at me and think I was normal.
But I’m not. My birthmark separates me from the rest. It’s my distinguishing mark. I could never be a spy. I could never go inconspicuous. I don’t ever really blend in anywhere I go.
As I’ve got older, I’m learning more and more to be okay with that. Maybe I wasn’t destined to blend in, to go unnoticed. Maybe this Birthmark is a reminder of that, and maybe instead of trying to conceal it, to hide it and hide away, I should be proud and break free. Maybe this Birthmark isn’t the curse I always been let to believed it is.