I am convinced that every single person can recall at least one traumatic life experience that occurred on a playground in his or her childhood. And by traumatic, I don't mean the occasional scrapes and bruises from flying off the swings like you were invincible, I'm talking about kids being mean to other kids. For the then-nine-year-old me, it involved a really cruel second grader making fun of the dark-colored beauty marks on my face and neck.
Let me paint you a picture: There was a younger girl who thought it was pretty cool to follow us older kids around during recess, but that didn't last too long. Normally my best friend and I would be receiving daily compliments on things like our very cool matching one-shouldered Limited Too shirts, but this day was different. She decided to run away screaming about the "huge ugly thing" on my neck. And shouted that there were several more like it on my face. Trust me, I know that her reaction may seem ridiculous, especially because my super-sized freckles are no larger than a pencil eraser, but I'm not joking around when I say that she literally ran away in fear. It had me contemplating if that's the reason I was so horrible at the game "tag". From that point on, I became extremely self-conscious about the several prominent dark beauty marks I was born with, but had never really seemed to notice before.
I was so upset about the incident, that I really truly hated my beauty marks, and begged my mom over and over again to let me have them removed. I knew how easy this would be too--just a quick trip to my parents' medical practice would do the trick and I'd be mark-free. Family and friends were always popping by for help with their latest health dilemmas, and I saw my issue as no different.
My mom warned me about the consequences, unsightly scars would likely form over the wound, but at that point, all I wanted was to never see those ugly spots again. We agreed that when I was 18, I would be allowed to have them removed, but to a fourth grader, adulthood feels light-years away. I tried everything, grew my hair long enough to cover my neck and made sure it never fell behind my shoulders, experimented with makeup (I now realize the uneven shade just drew even more attention to the spots), even contemplated wearing turtleneck jumpers.
But then one day, it all changed. My mother started re-hashing stories about my grandfather, and somehow it came up that I actually inherited my beauty marks from him. I was fairly young when my grandfather passed away and I have very few memories of him, so knowing that I had some sort of keepsake that would always be with me felt really special. Instead of hating my beauty marks, I began to love them, and as I grew older, I realized that each spot is really unique. I also noticed that some of the most gorgeous women of all time have very prominent marks as well, and that if they could embrace them, then so could I. Each beauty mark is a part of me, no matter what any silly second-grader thinks.