|Don't I look mysterious|
Here's the truth, which you know if you've known me for more than three years:
I used to have a mole, then I had it removed.
But of course that isn't the whole story. The first time I knew about my mole I was about this age:
And he said, "That's called a beauty mark, just like yours." And he touched the little dot right on my own fresh cheek.
I never, ever was self conscious about that mole. I didn't grow up thinking I was a beauty queen, and I never wanted to be. But I think I had a fairly accurate perception of my looks, passably cute, enough so. And I knew it didn't really matter, too. At least to me and those that loved me.
|girl with the mole teenage years|
I credit that two line conversation with enduring the endless anxiety over appearances most of my friends faced. It was enough for me. And enough for me not to hate, and even like, the quirky little spot on my cheek that meant me. Even when kids teased me, I think I felt like their teasing made me superior somehow, like the mole was a little secret of sophistication I had, and they weren't cultured enough to understand me. Really.
|girl with the mole has a baby|
And then one day, about three years ago, I was sitting in the dermatologist's office and I asked him if it looked troublesome. Honestly, it has been growing since it appeared, and would continue to do so, including changing its shape. Inevitably, it would have to go, and if not, would cease to resemble the innocent beauty mark I've always had.
|...a whole lot of babies|
He said it would do less damage scar-wise the sooner I had it removed, and, he added, "Whatever it leaves behind, it will look better than it does now."
That was the first time a comment ever bothered me. My eyes teared up and I told him to go ahead and take it off. 35 years old, and finally self-conscious? And then it was gone.
AnneMarie cried and cried. She loved that mole, said I wasn't me anymore, and that I wasn't beautiful without it. I never knew...I would look in the mirror and not see myself, have to look twice.
|AnneMarie and the mole in happier times|
But the challenge came, the sadness and anxiety, planted like a seed of discontent from that first comment the dermatologist made, when so many people I knew noticed the missing mole and gushed over its final disappearance. Like it was this hideous burden of imperfection I was forced to carry and modern surgery saved me from, just in time to let the wrinkles and age spots take over.
I would love to say I had this brilliant epiphany. You know, about inner beauty and what not. Life isn't always like that. I did realize that something I thought was a non-issue, this sweet little beauty mark on my cheek, really did bother people. And that bothered me. I was simply surprised to find that little vulnerable spot, maybe I embraced it a little, too, like some sort of sophisticated beauty mark of the psyche, to be perfectly corny. To think I lived all those years in pe rfect moled-bliss, unaware of its obvious offense!
To find that I had this kind of sensitivity to something so trivial, and at such an ancient age and state in life, you know, it made me all the more thankful for that mole. For the conversation with my dad, especially. Thankful for kids' teasing and for my preeminent ability to embrace it.
By the time the mole was no more than a little freckle, a little dent of its former self, I had already lived a happy girl's life of non-hate-of-what-I-see. Few these days are given that gift.
Nyah-nyah-nyah mole haters!