Beauty of a Woman | Beyond Skin Deep

My skin is a diary, stained with ink splotches, often fragile and wrinkled as tissue paper.

From my first breath, a hand-sized port wine stain discolored my torso, as if seared by God at birth.

I hid it for years. People gasped whenever they spied just a sliver of the magenta stigma below a stretched shirt bottom. “Oh my God, what happened? Were you burned? What IS that?” Their comments, their distaste—I was not okay. I dreamed of transforming my sprawling brand into a dragon tattoo. Let it breathe fire onto others as their words had scorched me.

I didn’t appreciate how easily I’d gotten off. Most of these stains appear on the face and neck.

In my youth, we worshiped the sun. We lived outside in a land of eternal sunshine, basking on beach towels and pool floats, slathering ourselves with Bain de Soliel and baby oil. My friends glowed bronze, many blessed by their Mediterranean or Hispanic lineage.

I faded into white walls. Translucent.

My mother always praised my fair complexion. I loathed it. I was a vampire in the land of sun goddesses.

I plastered my face with foundation as soon as my parents permitted, masking my smattering of freckles.

Upon my pale limbs, I traced patterns between my birthmarks and moles. My own constellations. Somehow they looked wrong when I stared at them in a mirror. Though always relatively thin, I allowed my flaws to weigh me down.

On my twenty-first birthday, I believed I’d matured into a woman. In honor of the milestone, I skipped the booze and bought my first bikini instead. Far more gutsy. Go ahead. Stare. This is me.

I’ve worn many since.

The first time my future husband saw my stain, he said not a word. When he finally spoke up, it was only to say I was beautiful no matter what. I washed off much of my warpaint and let my freckles shine.

When my stomach swelled with life, my dragon grew, protecting the child inside. A slight brown mark appeared above my hip where he often kicked.  He was born with a brown stork bite on his ankle. We matched. Traces of silver webs hung like a fringe over my womb, forever proving I had grown a child. I hope they never fade away.

Just as I learned to accept my different beauty, my skin betrayed me. Skin cancer. Basal cell, thank God. My constellations began disappear, the motley stars hacked out before they turned into dark matter. A little spot burned off here, another bump punched out there. Pink scars became my new stars. The first time they carved a gash in my shoulder I wore a sling for two weeks, taking extreme care so the scalpel would not permanently disfigure me. The fates laughed, and infection caused a welt seemingly stolen from Frankenstein’s bride.

I hid it, for a while.

Another two-inch gash marred my back. The sun became my enemy. As I hid in the shade to protect my papery shell, I healed within. My freckles faded. My confidence grew even as other blemishes spotted my skin. Be it age, hormones, genetics, or the damage I’d caused in my youth, this is me.

See that silver lightening flash on my hip—baby. That stitch lined gash—skin cancer. Those splotches and lines and big-ass freckles—my signature.

But I am more than my skin. In yoga class, I pose in black tights, my glowing white skin reflected in each mirrored wall. I’m different. I shine. I’m different, yet I’m beautiful. We all are.

Each constellations in the heavens tells a story. Each each dot, gash, and wrinkle upon my skin forms words, a veritable story of my life written upon my vellum. Ask me about one, I’ll tell you my tale.

My story is far from over.

This post is a part of author August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. Be sure to visit the other funny, tear-jerking, inspiring, and always beautiful posts.

photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti via photopin cc

15 thoughts on “Beauty of a Woman | Beyond Skin Deep

  1. jennifermzeiger

    Brings tears to my eyes. There's something incredibly beautiful about a woman who wears her scars with confidence. You are a beautiful woman. I should take a note from your book, being faired skinned too. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Sabrina Garie

    "My confidence grew even as other blemishes spotted my skin." Beautiful post, beautifully written. This line says it all to me–we get stronger the harder the roads we travel. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Kourtney Heintz

    Wow. Your honesty and your struggle are such beautiful things. Thanks for being courageous and sharing this for BOAW Blogfest. 🙂

  4. jesswitkins

    From one redhead to another, I so get it! I always got covered in freckles in the summertime, or burned. And worse, I had sun poisoning, causing me to break into hives even at recess (15 minutes in the sun!). It's also gone away as I've grown, but I still have to be careful and slather like 100+ SPF all over. It can be a pain, but in the long run, I am so proud of my red hair that the fair skin is worth it!

  5. ellenawakening

    What a journey. I love how you embraced your dragon at 21 with your first bikini, and how that dragon protected your baby. Scars and blemishes as constellations… You have your own universe. You are your own universe. So should we all be.

  6. Xiomara Maldonado

    This post is the most moving one I've read in a long while. Your words are as beautiful as you are. I am sharing this post with the world because there are too many women out here, including myself, who don't appreciate ourselves for who we are and for what we've been through. I love how you say every mark upon our bodies tells a part of our stories. I am glad you have healed, and I wish many many good things into your life. I hope my son can appreciate and love his port wine stain (under his arm) as you now do.
    My recent post Why Thinking Positively Works


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