I was looking at myself in the mirror a few days ago.
Don’t we all.
But it’s what we see and how we see it that makes all the difference.
I noticed my eyes first. How big and expressive they are.
Should I have become an actress?
I shrugged my shoulders. Maybe.
I noticed the somewhat dark lines under them, like a wisp of early night sky permanently there.
I’ve loved my nose. There were days way back in the day when I thought it was too big or couldn’t understand why I needed such a prominent snout.
Now, I love it.
If I turn my head to the left, you can see a slight bump. I thought it an ugly thing when I was younger.
Now, I call it ‘character’.
I love my cheekbones. So high. Always defined. There was a time when I thought my face too thin, when I very much disliked the deep definition. But then I gained weight and missed those lines and then fought hard to get them back.
We never know what we have till its gone.
I’ve loved my teeth, my smile. It’s my best asset, I think, besides the laugh that comes from my mouth.
Sometimes loud and boisterous. Sometimes high and singsongy.
Sometimes my lips are big and beautiful and then other times they’re small and rosebud-like. Just depends on their mood, I suppose.
My neck is slender, defined, almost regal. My shoulders are delicate. My arms are long, my wrists are tiny, my hands are small. There’s a lovely little mole that lines up with my left ring finger. I’ve always disliked it (mainly because people would point it out as if I didn’t know it was there) and wished to remove it, but because it sits right above my vein, doctors have been hesitant.
So, it stays.
I have a few more characteristics: A freckle on my shoulder, Keratosis Pilaris on my arms, a small varicose vein on my calf, two more freckles diagonal from each other on my left ankle.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in front of my bookcase, talking to a guy on the phone about the types of books we had on our shelves. It was then my eyes rested on Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” and decided that would be the next story I’d jump into.
I was reading it last night and a passage struck me, becoming the inspiration for this post.
I’ll share it here:
“…the deep curve of her waist, her startling whiteness. When she reached for her skirt, a carelessly raised foot revealed a patch of soil on each pad of her sweetly diminishing toes. Another mole the size of a farthing on her thigh and something purplish on her calf – a strawberry mark, a scar. Not blemishes. Adornments.”
“Not blemishes. Adornments.” I read again.
An adornment is “something added to make a person or thing more attractive,” says Merriam-Webster.
And that got me thinking: How many times do we hear society call our adornments, the things that make us innately us, “blemishes”? And, like sheep, we have accepted the degrading speech during the exercise of looking at ourselves in the mirror.
But then society wants to turn around and say, “You’re beautiful just the way you are.”
Really? Then why are you calling the things that make me, me, “blemishes”?
Blemish: “To make something imperfect or LESS BEAUTIFUL : to HURT or DAMAGE the good condition of something” Again, Merriam-Webster.
Why is society using such a crude word to describe my uniqueness? Why are they trying to back-peddle in this moment when in the next, they are going to proudly show me a product that will cover up my “fine lines”, my “imperfections”, my “blemishes”? A product that will cover me up, cover up my somethings that make me more attractive?
Who said it was okay to trap us and make us feel as though the only way we could love ourselves is if we covered up what made each of us so very different?
What is so dangerous about being different?
Aren’t we all?
Aren’t we supposed to celebrate our differences?
I think a marginal amount of people are standing up and saying, “We don’t need someone to define our beauty because we know in our hearts we are beautiful.”
I commend those people. I stand with those people.
Beauty, true beauty, isn’t about a specific size, hair color, skin complexion, skin color, or percentage of muscle mass. True beauty shines and it only shines from within.
It’s time we stop the underlying, negative language we’ve been all too open to accept.
We don’t have blemishes.
We have adornments, things that make us more attractive.
And these adornments tell a story, our story. A story that tells what we’ve been through whether it be a freckle from running barefoot through the dry summer grass with childhood friends or a scar from a life-saving surgery.
Our adornments are a testament of a life lived.
They aren’t blemishes. How can they be such an ugly word when they are tied to our beautiful lives?
No. They are adornments.
They are perfect.
They are us.