Self Love - is it possible?
I have a dilemma. My daughter who is 8 wants to get bangs. And while that might not seem like a big deal or an unrealistic request from an 8 year old, it’s why she wants bangs that’s troubling.
I thought at first that she wanted bangs to be like one of her best friends who has bangs. But after further conversations, I learned she wants them to cover up her forehead. You see, she was born with a hemangioma (he-man-jee-O-muh) on her forehead. A hemangioma is a birthmark that most commonly appears as a rubbery, bright red nodule of extra blood vessels in the skin. It grows during the first year of life, and then recedes over time.
It was always interesting to me the number of strangers that would walk up to me and say, “What’s that on her head?” with a look of fear or disgust on their face. Not really what you hope to hear as a new mother, nor what you want for your little girl. The world is cruel enough. And while it has receded there is now a scar on her forehead where it was, BUT she also has a Café au lait birthmark in the same spot – a double whammy! The name café au lait is French for "coffee with milk" and refers to the mark’s light-brown color.
So at a young age, my daughter is super self-conscious of her appearance and is always asking me, “Mommy when is it going to go away?” When we go to the pediatrician she always asks them, “When is it going to go away?” And I have to tell her, “I don’t know.” I also tell her that I don’t even see it, which I don’t. It’s just a part of her like her hair or her nose. I’m drawn to her smiling eyes. When she smiles, her whole face and eyes smile – that’s what I see. Her birthmark is just a part of who she is, a part of her that I hardly even notice. I tell her she looks beautiful just the way she is and that’s the way God made her. But, unfortunately, at her age children often ask her, “What’s that on your head?” I’ve always told her it’s not a big deal and to tell the kids in no uncertain terms, “It’s my birthmark.” I encourage her to stand tall and be brave, and just tell them what it is.
But I get it. I wasn’t brave as a kid. I always wanted to fit in, and there are things I did and choices that I made that I regret to this day because I didn’t stand up for myself. Hell, there are things now in my life that I should be standing up for, and I’m not! But how do I teach her that everyone has differences in how they look and that’s what makes them unique? How do I get her to embrace her birthmark and not always slap at her head wanting it to go away? Do I just let her hide it? Before I know it, she will be into make-up and can cover it up. I’ve done that for her a few times when she was really down and out.
But I totally get where she is coming from: I want to cover up my wrinkles and stomach and hide my flaws all the time. Basically, I am trying to teach her not to be like me. How’s that for a slap of reality when I think through all this? Sounds like I need to learn self-love if I am going to try to teach self-love!
So for now, no bangs. And more talk about love, acceptance and being brave when we are being judged—especially when we are judging ourselves!