I have three moles on my face. One is on my forehead, above my left eye, and two are on my right cheek. I have had them for as long as I can remember. I don’t really like them. I think the one above my eyebrow is ugly, and I’m always having to pluck hairs out of the other two. If I was going to complain about something on my face, it would be those pesky moles.

My daughter thinks they’re funny. Since infancy, she has liked to poke at them. As a toddler, she would mix up the words “mole” and “nipple,” and point to my head and say, “Mama, your nipple!” Now that she’s four, she doesn’t really say much about them, except to sometimes ask, “Mom, what is a mole?”

Today I took Ruthie and Neville to Wendy’s before ballet class, and Ruthie was sitting as close to me as she possibly could. I was thinking about writing a blog post about the way children always want to sit next to the people they love, and being across the table just isn’t good enough. I remember that same desire in my little self–I wanted to sit beside my Grandma Ruthie, not across from her. Beside Aunt Tammy, not a couple of seats away. I was thinking that there might be something in a child’s need for closeness that reflects in all of us.

So as she leaned on me, petted my shoulder, put her head briefly on my arm, talked into my neck, and generally breathed on me–all while eating her lunch–I got out my camera. I thought I’d document her exhausting need for physical closeness.

I put the phone on selfie mode, and we looked at ourselves on the screen.

“Hey, Mom?” she whispers, leaning close.

Click.

mole1

“Yeah?”

“Is this a mole?” She shows me her cheek, where she, too, has a little mole. Or maybe it’s just a really big freckle. Either way, she’s never seemed to notice it before.

Click.

mole2

“Yeah,” I say.

And suddenly a huge smile fills her face, and I know immediately why. I know what she is thinking. I have a mole just like mommy!

Click.

mole3

“Does that make you happy?” I ask.

“Yes!”

Click.

mole4

Β 
And this is why I will never criticize my body in front of my daughter. This is why I will never voice any insecurities about my body.
It is human nature to compare ourselves to others. She compares herself to her friends, her baby brother, the people on TV, her cousins, her dad. She compares herself to me.

What if I had told her that my moles were ugly? That they were gross or icky or something I didn’t like? What, then, would she think of the mark on her own face?

I refuse to give in to a culture that says our bodies are bad. I refuse to teach my daughter to hate her body by telling her that I hate mine.

Advertisements