By Ann Varner
When I was in middle school, a young man named Michael let me know that the two moles I had on my face were hideous, and that no boy would ever kiss me because they would be distracted by them. One was a small mole next to my nose and one was a flesh colored mole on my nose. He was horrible about those moles, telling me that no beautiful women had moles on their faces (which I now know is not true). However, as I looked around and noticed no one else had beauty marks on their faces, my 12-year-old self believed him. After all his torment, I went home crying. I took a pair of scissors that I had poured rubbing alcohol on and cut the mole off of my nose. Yes, this really happened, and no, I have no idea how I managed to do that without permanent scarring or infection. At 19 years old, I was having my first surgery on my jaw joint and I asked if they could remove the small beauty mark that was next to my nose. They did, and finally, I was free of the self-consciousness that I should have never fueled in the first place. I physically cut something off of my face because I believed that I wouldn’t be attractive unless I did it. That is not okay, but that is what women are constantly told they need to do; change themselves in order to be more beautiful, attractive, and accepted.
Fortunately, organizations like the National Organization for Women Foundation (NOW) as well as our own UMKC Women’s Center are proactive about spreading the word of self-acceptance – especially with events such as the “I Am Enough!” photo campaign organized by the Women’s Center and “Love Your Body Day” coordinated by the NOW Foundation. The NOW Foundation states:
“Every day, in so many ways, the beauty industry (and the media in general) tell women and girls that being admired, envied and desired based on their looks is a primary function of true womanhood. The beauty template women are expected to follow is extremely narrow, unrealistic and frequently hazardous to their health. The Love Your Body campaign challenges the message that a woman’s value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current beauty standards.”
My story is a tad different than most when I speak about how those beauty marks affected me because of other’s words, but the stories are all the same when it comes to how women are viewed in society and what the media portrays as “perfect.” Join the movement and check out the NOW Foundation as well.