The Body Image Project – “without even a blemish”

July 11.

This is my mole.


It is big.  It is flappy and brown and pronounced.

It is so big, the purple strap of my shirt just there gets caught on it.  My necklace gets caught on it.  My hair gets caught on it.

Some people think it’s gross.

Most people who see it (and are ballsy enough to speak up) ask me “have you considered getting that removed?”  The kids I know (and other people who lack the need for tact) tell me “WILL YOU PLEASE GET THAT THING CUT OFF.”  The Mr. asks me, “Has it started talking to you yet?”  My three year old nephew spied it, stopped speaking mid-sentence, paused for a moment, and said “I think I need to get that.”

He spent the next two minutes fingering my mole, our conversation abandoned.

“GET IT OFF.  It won’t come off.”

(I have to put this video in here.  It’s the best one.)

I could remove my mole.  I know that.  The doctor told me “one visit, local anesthetic, a tiny snip, one stitch.  You wouldn’t feel a thing.”


I don’t want to, because look.


This is my beautiful, wonderful Grandma.

This year, Grandma Ikue turned 93 years old.  She is a Nisei, first generation born on American soil after immigration.  She was interned during World War II, met my grandpa while in Tule Lake Internment Camp, made her wedding dress out of a war-rationed parachute, got married, had four children, and helped my grandfather build a business for himself and his fellow race, because after the war no whites would do business with him or offer him a job.  People threw rocks at her, spit at her, called her names.

For a long time, she and most of my family were ostracized.

The Japanese were evil animals, you know.  

My grandmother has experienced more hate and discrimination than I will ever live to see, yet she is strong, graceful, and proud.  Dignified.



Also, look at her neck and face.


If you look up the word “blemish” in a thesaurus, you will read words like this:


Seriously.  “Stigma.”

sigma, stigmata (pl) noun:
1.  a mark of disgrace or infamy, a stain or reproach
2.  a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disesase

Which leads me to my next question:

At what point in our culture did a physical blemish, a simple, unbiased, devoid-of-judgment skin tag or aesthetic, physical oddity become “a mark of disgrace or reproach?”

I call bullshit.

As a woman in this day and age, I KNOW the pressure to perfection.  Most of us do.  We feel the need to be less of what we are, and more of what we are not.  Culture and society and the expectations of others have pressed into our absent minds an ideal that is neither realistic nor healthily attainable, and yet we are inexplicably drawn to fulfill it.


Why, why, why.

We KNOW the magazine images that leap out at us in the grocery store checkout aisle are photoshopped to high heaven.  We know that the women on our computer screens who pose for close-ups really do have pores on their noses, no matter what our eyes tell us, and we know that the celebrities that snap back to pre-baby body only two weeks after delivery do so because of elective c-sections and a side order of tummy tuck.

Still, we drive ourselves to perfect,

and we hate ourselves for failing,

and we see every single dot and blemish, fold and stretch mark, flap and bulge as “a mark of disgrace.”


How stupid is that.


I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hating myself for dumb reasons.

I’m tired of hating myself AT ALL.

There was a time in my life when I considered removing my mole.  I probably will, if it ever changes shape or threatens to be malignant in any way.

Until then, I’m okay with it just as it is.

My mole, just like any blemish that I ever have, does not define me.  It does not deface me.  It is not a disgrace, shame, smudge, or impurity.

IT IS NOT AN IMPERFECTION, it is just WHO I AM.  It is a part of me.  It is not a mistake.

I am not a mistake.

Nothing about me is a mistake.


When you feel like your blemishes and perceived imperfections make you less of a person, when you feel your worth sliding into the darkness because of a real or imaginary flaw, look at that picture of my grandma.

Would you tell her she’s flawed because of how she looks?

I certainly wouldn’t.

Don’t tell yourself that, either.


Own your life.  Own your body.  Accept yourself for what and who you are, exactly as you are.

Once you do, everything changes.

And remember:

if perfect doesn’t exist, everything you call imperfect is ordinary.


Your blemishes help to make you who you are…

…and there is nothing ordinary about that.


Much love, Friend.  Thanks for reading.



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