Who is the boy with the millipede on the head? She said.
There was no boy and there surely was no millipede. My English teacher was referring to me and the said Millipede was the birthmark on the side of my head. I never forgot that day.
For the first twelve years of my life, I was never conscious of my birth mark or the fact that I hated its appearance. To me, it was just a mark and I paid it no special attention.
My mum had told me that it might have been an injury during my birth because it seemed too big of a scar to belong on my baby head. It didn’t really matter if I had the mark while in her belly or got it on the way out. All that mattered was that it had always been a part of me from birth.
As puberty crept in, self awareness and the idea of perfection were at the fore front of my mind and it was in adolescence that I first battled with self esteem based on physical appearance.
Back then in highschool, we began to notice who was pretty or ugly, tall or short slim or fat. We also awaited the promise by our science teachers that for the guys, shoulders would get broad and that the girls would have slimmer waists and wider hips.
Lol, I wonder how much this affected the self worth of many of my class mates and I who waited earnestly for the broad shoulders and wider hips and still continue to wait.
For many of us, appearance has been a large part of how we define and accept ourselves. We have an image of what we ought to look like influenced either by what we learnt at school or what we saw on TV. Instead of accepting ourselves, we fawn at images of people we believe have the template body or appearance.
Like I said, I never forgot my teacher’s description of me. What made it worse was that in my boarding school, the girls were not allowed to grow their hair, so I had to walk around school with my birth mark sticking out like a sore thumb.
When I would have conversations with people, they stared straight at my head like my eyes were at the side of my head. And so, as soon as I finished highschool, all my hair styles were ‘protective’ hairstyles. Lol, it wasn’t my hair getting protected though; it was my birth mark and what was left of my self confidence.
I had to shield my birthmark because I was tired of the undue attention. For you, it could be a mole, a crooked eye, or something else that just makes you feel less than perfect. With all the self love messages that abound today, we are all gradually working out some of the self-worth issues we have struggled with.
It was only two years ago that I decided to start wearing my natural hair and although I still care about the mark, I no longer feel compelled to explain it when people stare at it.
Recently, I was talking with my 6 year old niece and she was surprised to see the mark on my head because I was wearing my natural hair. What’s that on your head she said? I replied saying that it was my birthmark to which she said ‘eww, I hope you’ll cover it for your wedding’. I laughed and asked her why? And then she giggled and said ‘cos it’s disgusting’. Oh dear, it was really hilarious but also showed that she had already began learning what ‘pretty’ or ‘perfection’ should be.
I occasionally still consider removing it surgically but when I think of other things I could spend my money on, I have to encourage myself from within. I still think it gives my hair line an awkward shape but who cares? Just kidding, I actually do. Just not as much as before. And when I take pictures, I have to take it showing my ‘good’ side which is the other side of my face.
Our identities should not be tied so much to blemishes or scars and even when they are, they tell a story of the life we’ve lived and we should not feel less because of them.
How did we decide that one body or face shape was the ideal one? Can we go back to that place of childhood innocence where everyone just had a face and none was judged prettier than the other.
I understand that we are all at different stages in our journey to self acceptance but I hope we all get there some day. Your scar makes you YOU. I have yet to see anyone with the same birth mark as me and even though sometimes I hate it, I have to embrace it.
Remember, we are all made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) and all things He created are beautiful
Heart to Heart: What appearance issue have you struggled with and overcome or are still struggling with?