Can we talk about birthmarks?

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Yep, that's a birth mark.
Yep, that’s a birth mark.
I have a birthmark.

As the name suggests, it’s always been there. This red mark between my lip and my left nostril, a permanent wound needing to be kissed. Apparently, when I was born, my mother thought it was cute. My aunt commented that I would surely hate it.

I don’t, really. I usually forget it’s there.

I was teased for it a couple times: once in 7th grade a boy named Ben pointed and asked sarcastically, “What’s THAT?!” He shouldn’t really have poked fun though, because he had a birthmark on HIS lip, one that made it look like a small bruise. I merely pointed back at him and said, “I don’t know…what’s that!?” Perhaps he wasn’t being sarcastic. Maybe we could have been birthmarked lip friends, two 12-year-olds with our scarlet “A”s on our faces.

Little known secret: the birthmark goes all the way through my lip. It appears on the inside, as well.

The few times I’ve been on television, I always tell the makeup artists, “It’s a birthmark, it doesn’t hurt.” They always look relieved and spackle over it with foundation.

Once when I volunteered with a 2nd grade class, one of the kids asked me, “What happened to your lip? Did you bump it with a hula hoop?”

“It’s a birthmark,” I answered.

“Oh.” I could tell he was disappointed. “You didn’t bump it when you were hula hooping?” I told him that no, it’d been there since I was born. Not nearly as interesting.

Sometimes it seems redder than usual. Perhaps it’s my own self-consciousness barometer.

But most of the time, I don’t see it.

New friends will gently ask what that is on my lip, and I’ll stop and say, “On my lip? I don’t know! Is my lipstick smeared? Is it food!? Ack! Is there something in my teeth?!” Then they feel all bad about it and I realize that no, it’s just the birthmark.

As a holder of a birthmark, I find myself fascinated by other people’s birthmarks. Do you flaunt it? Cover it? Explain it over and over again? Tell me everything, Homies.

Comments on Can we talk about birthmarks?

  1. I don’t have a visible birthmark and I felt left out when I was a kid. My brothers have moles on their shoulders or necks; I have one on my butt.

  2. I have a brown patch birthmark on the back of my thigh.
    As a baby wearing bulky cloth nappies that reached down to almost my knees my mum often thought it was a poo stain!!!!

    • HA! My boyfriend has a big brown birthmark really high up on the back of his thigh, and it looks kind of splattery.
      It catches my eye sometimes and I have a little moment of D: before rememberingโ€“oh yeah, just skin. Even he calls it his poo stain, though. Haha

      I have one high on the front of my thigh that my mom took me to the doctor for once because it got bigger and darker as I was “becoming a woman”. The doctor was certain it wasn’t a bad spot, so on it goes.
      I was also born with a red patch all over the bottom of one of my feet, but it’s faded almost completely.

    • My husband has a darker mark all across the right side of his chest – his mom developed the same thing on her leg as a child (but wasn’t born with it, interesting). Apparently when she found out, her mother kept trying to scrub it off one thinking it was dirt.

    • Mine is exactly the same (color and location)! I always get self-conscious wearing swimsuits, since I’ve had people tell m (trying to be polite an discrete) that I have something on my thigh… Gah.

  3. I have one by my knee. In my babysitting years the kids would poke it like a button and I’d go “Boop!” which was fun the first time or two, less fun the fiftieth.

    I like that the one kid you talked to really wanted it to be hula hoop related.

    • I have one on my knee as well! It’s perfectly round and located in the dip of my kneecap. When I was a kid I’d pretend my leg was an elephant.

  4. My husband has the most beautiful reddish birthmark across his chest/arm/part of his back. It looks like a map of mysterious continents. And it goes purple if he’s cold!

  5. I flaunt my birthmarks. If the opportunity presents itself organically I proudly point it out. “Check out this heart shaped mark on my hip! I’m a Care Bear!” or “See this spot up here? It’s a birthmark. Doesn’t it look like I got smacked upside the head?” See? Even online I’m still bragging about it.

    But I think that pride has a lot to do with my overall relationship with my skin. I’m ghostly pale and have several moles on my body. Since I was a very young girl my grandmother, the literal and metaphorical source of my GAD, has warned me about cancer. Heck, a LOT of people felt like they could comment on my skin and they talked about the things that made me afraid or unhappy. So I hated my moles, covered everything up, and wished I could be tan like everyone else (I don’t burn actually, but fear stopped me). Birthmarks were the only thing positive for a while.

    Thankfully I’ve reached a point where I think of my paleness, moles, and scars like my birthmarks. They’re cool things to show off when I get the chance. For example, on my neck I had two moles that looked like scabs from vampire fangs. As a kid I cried at the idea of losing something so weird and unique or that they might actually be dangerous. But now the scars look like I wrestled away from the vampire. Add a little fake blood and built in Halloween costume, baby!

    • I have no birth marks, but I have so. many. moles (maybe some present since birth, but I don’t really know). I really don’t like them (and yes of course I go to a dermatologist to check if there is anything strange going on with many of them, so far all is good), and I hate it when I find a new one. I have them all up and down my arms, primarily, and every once in a while new ones will show up other places too. A set of them on my left arm looks a bit like the Big Dipper constellation, but I still don’t like it. I suppose I should learn to like them and/or not care. But I’m still learning.

      • Same here: no birthmarks, lots of moles. I’ve always liked mine. Sometimes when bored I’d color all of them with ink and pretend they were stars of constellations. I call them my leopard spots. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Now skin tags on the other hand, NOT a fan! I’ve often thought, “Would it be so bad if I just stretched them out and sliced them off myself?” But then I realize that could result in some interesting questions at the ER if there was significant bleeding…

        • Not that you have to do anything about them, but have you considered tying a string around them to make them fall off. I know the internet doesn’t necessarily recommend it, but my mom’s done it for years and it requires less blood loss and health insurance.

          • I’ve done this with small ones, & it always turns out fine. Use waxed dental floss, as it’s wider, stronger, & hurts less than regular thread.

        • I inadvertently got rid of a skin tag on my neck when a hair got wrapped around it as a teenager. I’ve had a few others, most notably on either breast under my arm (yes, I know that sounds weird but hey, it’s the weird-ish shape of my breasts!) that over the years have just disappeared. Lots of moles, especially on my upper arms. I *do* technically have a birthmark, it’s just not visible:it’s on my scalp, and my hair covers it. I do have a small mark on my belly where I was stung by a wasp when I was 12 or 13 that kinda looks like one, though.

        • Your mole coloring reminded me of something I considered doing with my moles, but using different colors would just help me keep track of them! I’ve tried to count them, but I give up after about 30.

    • It’s amazing how the way our bodies are presented to us as children influence how we see them. I’m also very pale and covered with moles, but my mother told me I had lovely porcelain skin, like my grandmothers and the older sister I adored. So it was always a positive.

      As for birthmarks, I have two little ones next to each other above my left knee. One of my earliest memories is trying to wash the dirt off. I have two little moles in the same place above my right knee, which is nifty. Vampire bites sound even better!

    • Moles….yes, I understand what you mean. I have so many moles, I lost count.

      I’ve had many removed, and I also had to have a larger section taken out a few times when they came back atypical. I hated my skin growing up. I’m so pale that most makeup (even porcelain!) is too dark for me. I have moles and scars. I didn’t ever want to go to the beach, and kids made fun of me for “glowing in the dark.”

      One day, a few years ago, a stranger commented on my pale skin. I immediately apologized for it (I was so used to being harassed for it, apologizing became my instant reaction), but she told me my skin was nice. She said she was envious, because in her home country, people buy whitening creams and makeup to look paler. That was the day I stopped hating my skin. I realized two things that day. Preferences are different for everyone, and something you dislike, might be the exact thing someone else loves. But the real reason I stopped hating my skin that day, was because even though our complaints about ourselves were different, the shaming ourselves was the same.

      • “Preferences are different for everyone, and something you dislike, might be the exact thing someone else loves.”

        THIS. It took me years to learn to love instead of feel self-conscious of ample backside. One catalyst was seeing padded underpants for sale (what? people actually want to look like me?), then seeing photos of celebs like Jennifer Lopez being confident in her shape, then discovering the fantasticly fun-to-say word “callipygian”. ๐Ÿ™‚ Bit by bit I’m embracing my body and its features as fun variations that make me me.

        • It’s amazing to finally accept something you previously saw as a “fault” and EMBRACE it! It feels good ๐Ÿ˜€

          Oh, and by the way, as a lady with a teenie, tiny backside, I am one of those people who get booty envy ;).

      • One of my dear friends always compliments my porcelain skin, which is delightfully different…and it worries other people, thanks to ‘Silence of the Lambs’. It makes me giggle every time.

  6. I have 3, but all small and mostly unnoticeable. The one shaped like an arrow on the side of my elbow is my favorite. The mole-ish thing on my other arm fascinates me. It doesn’t seem to have any pigment, and I’m hella pale, so other people only notice it in the summer when I have what counts as my version of a tan.

  7. I have one on my left leg, about halfway up my thigh. When I was younger, I was embarrassed by it. It’s just at the point where if I wore shorts long enough to cover it, they weren’t cool, but shorts that revealed it were slightly scandalous.
    My embarrassment completely disappeared when my daughter was born. She has a birth mark on her lower left leg that I think will be about the same size/shape/color as mine when she’s an adult, so it’s like she’ll always carry this matching part of me with her. Since hers will be will be impossible to cover except with pants, I’ve resolved to flaunt mine so she’s never embarrassed about hers.

  8. I have one on my nose. It looks like an arrow (little square next to a little triangle, pointing down), like really. When I was a kid, I remember telling someone it was to indicate I was breathing from there ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’ve never been teased about it. It was the same colour as my freckles, it’s nature was obvious.
    Nowadays it has very much faded and is barely visible anymore. You have to know it’s there. In a way, I kinda miss it.

  9. I have a brownish patch at the base of my neck in the back. My mom once scrubbed it really hard thinking it was dirt. “Oops…It’s a birthmark…sorry”. I have a mole between my thigh and my underwear line, almost the crease of my body there. I have a small brown spot on top of my left forearm, two faint parallel lines above that, like thin wire cuffs almost (no idea how they got there), and then on the inside of that forearm are some small freckles in the shape of a cross but with three points on top (would I have been burned in Salem or celebrated? Who knows!). Lastly, but most importantly, I have a strawberry mark on the back of my head. It’s a bumpy patch that is reddish pink in color and no hair grows there, so when I had really short hair the bottom would look like someone cut one spot unevenly. I didn’t know what it looked like until I was in high school and I asked a friend to photograph it for me. It doesn’t bother me and I show it to people if they ask.

    • I lived with two other housemates in college and we had a long conversation over who would be burned at the stake first in ye olde witch hunting days in Europe. I have a mole just under my breast (toward the center of my chest so it’s super visible) that I call my witches tit. Good times!

  10. I have a Robin’s Egg Blue birthmark on my left arm. It’s about 3 inches in diameter and used to be a perfect circle. Such a rarity it is, a dermatologist once asked if she could remove it, not because it was dangerous to me or my health but because she wanted to TOUR it around to universities and hospitals as a teaching tool. As a small child, people often thought a parent grabbed me too hard by the arm as it looks much like a bruise. On the NYC subway once as an adult, I was handed a card for an abused women’s shelter. In my teens and 20’s I tried to hide it. I was exhausted by the constant questions, the looks of horror before I told them it wasn’t a bruise, the insinuation that my body was “gross”. But sometime in my mid 20’s I stopped trying to hide it. I learned to smile proudly and say “oh, that’s my birthmark!” instead of feeling ashamed and letting it ruin my day. At 40, my birthmark has faded in color (much to my dismay – it was a beautiful, vibrant blue!) and changed shape a little. People still mistake it for a bruise or a botched tattoo (I don’t really get that one) but I don’t mind. It’s mine.

  11. I have a mole one finger width from my nose on one cheek. My dad and sister have exactly the same mole. My dad’s twin brother has exactly the same one… on the opposite cheek! I like it. It’s a great distinguishing feature and I think it’s cute.
    My partner has a very light one on the left cheek, right over the cheekbone. It’s the size and shape of a thumbprint, and it’s the first thing to blush if my sweetie gets embarrassed! (Ohmigodthecuteness!!!)

  12. I have one on the side of my neck, by my jawline and people have always thought it was a hickey. I think part of why my right shoulder and back are always clenched up and hurting is nearly a lifetime of trying to hide it. When I was little, I was always really shy, so I would hold my head down and to the side a lot anyway, but in my pre-teen years I became really self-conscious about it, and trying to angle my body and head so that it didn’t stand out. I don’t even think about it anymore, and have corrected my alignment, but am considering putting cover up on it for my wedding (something I have only done a couple times for interviews, so they didn’t think I was some backseat girl. lol).

  13. I have a lot of them. Most are pretty small, but I have a fairly large one on my stomach that is a dark patch next to a very light patch. I also have one in my *ahem* nether region that is also a large-ish patch of very lightly pigmented skin. I’ve had several sexual partners ask me if I knew I had a birth mark there, which I find funny because of course I do. I’m in my 30’s. Do they really think I’ve never looked at my own bits? Mostly they go uncommented on, and I generally don’t think about them or notice them myself. Though I once had a room mate tell me completely seriously that birthmarks are the scars of our past lives and that I probably died a pretty brutal death in a previous life. That was definitely the weirdest comment I’ve ever gotten about them though.

    • I’ve heard that before. Years ago, my Dad was doing a past life regression with someone they had recently become friends with (we’re all very close now) and they said that he was shot in a past life and she goes “You still have the mark from the shot.” And she put her finger against his back. My Mom lifted the back of his shirt up to look and right where our friends finger was, is the red mole that was one of my father’s birthmarks. Totally freaky and cool at the same time.

  14. I’ve got 3. I have 2 that are moles I was born with: One right beside my bellybutton and another on the left breast. And then I have what my grandmother called “the wine stain” on the crown of my head. Apparently, all babies born in my fathers bloodline have had that birthmark. Hereditary birthmarks are interesting to me.

    The neatest one, though, belongs to my sister. She has a little brown mark (it’s flat as can be, so not a mole) on the back of her thigh that is in the exact shape of a bow tie. Oddly enough, my mother has a mole on her thigh in the same spot that is in the same shape as my sister’s birthmark.

    • Now that you mention it, I have another that is identical to my mother’s. It’s just a heavy freckle (not quite a mole I don’t think) right between my boobs, and one on her in the same place. Didn’t realize that was a hereditary thing – just assumed it was an unexplainable doppel-freckle. Now I must research!

  15. I have a mole (which I’ve ALWAYS had) on the crease of my elbow on my right arm. It looks like a slightly-large freckle, except it’s raised. The other day, my mom asks if it’s new (yeah, it was new 22 years ago!). I generally don’t worry about it and people don’t tend to notice it or anything. But yeah. Thanks, Mom.

  16. I have a red birthmark on my left wrist, it has a mole bang in the middle of it. My mum always told me it’s where the faeries kissed me when I was a baby. I’ve always loved it.

    My Nephew has one that looks exactly like a big bruise on the back of his thigh. It has to be on his medical records so that my sister doesn’t get suspected of child abuse every time he is taken to hospital!

  17. I have a birthmark on the back of my thigh about the size of a dime. I used to hate it, I got teased for in it grade school. But then one day I got over it & the fact that no matter what I did I never fit in. In fact I have since relished in the fact that I am anything but ordinary. Now I love my birthmark as it reminds me I am meant to stand out! :o)

  18. I have a fairly large brown birthmark on my inner thigh, up by my crotch (it’s visible when I wear a bathing suit). It looks like a cartoon whale, spouting water out of its blowhole. Like other commenters I used to hate it: as a teen I wouldn’t wear shorts because I was scared people would see it (though, those would have to be VERY short shorts) . Now I mostly forget its there, and I don’t think I have ever had someone comment on it.

  19. My birthmark is on my right breast. It covers a good amount of the breast and can be seen outside my bra. Sometimes I really hate it. I have to be careful with my low cut shirts, when it does peek out I’m forever having people tell me my nipple is showing, no, no nipple shot here, just a birthmark. It doesn’t help that it’s very dark brown and I…am not. My Irish side kicked my Sicilian’s side butt when it came time to decide on skin tone. So it’s pretty obvious that there’s something there.

    When I was younger I’d worry that if someone ever saw me naked it’d be a total turn off. I can tell you now…that was a stupid thing to worry about. The first person I ever slept with asked me what it was, I said my birthmark, and he moved right along. And that’d be the most focus anyone has ever put on my birthmark. Usually there’s no reaction.

    I’d love to say I own it. That it’s part of me and I love it for that reason alone. But I don’t. I’d love to have it removed. I always look at pictures/videos of topless women and wished my boobs looked more like there’s. And not in the perkier way, I just want to not have this big…thing over taking one of my breasts.

    The upside is, not a lot of people see it. If it slips out they do, but otherwise it’d pretty much just people seeing me topless. And since I have a lot fewer wild drinking nights now, that number is considerably smaller.

  20. I have a really tiny mole on the inside of might right elbow. I’ve always loved picking at it. Occasionally it will even sprout a really thick black hair around the edges, haha. I let it grow until I can’t resist the urge to pluck it out anymore (I also have an un-natural obsession with plucking weird hairs that pop up).

    • I have a mole near my left elbow…that also sprouts black hairs! I’m pale and blond, so the dark hairs are odd. I am glad to hear someone else has this!

      My great grandma used to say a little rhyme to me when I was growing up: “got a mole on your arm, you’ll be a rich man’s charm.” I married a musician, so…yeah. No. Sorry Big Mom! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Me three! Little mole (that’s pink… it used to be brown, but… I picked at it and took the top off), near my left inside elbow, that sprouts one single black hair!

  21. I have a birthmark about the size of bar coaster on my lower back. About where someone would get a tattoo – just above the pantline where the bottom of your shirt hits your pants. So if you bend over everyone sees it.

    I never got teased about it as a kid. I guess since it was ussually covered. But people always ask about it when it does show up (bathing suits, the low cut jeans phase, etc).

    However, I used to get some vaguely and not so vaguely inappropriate comments about it from adults when I was pretty young. Things like, “Oh I bet your husband will love that when he gets older. *snicker, snicker*” I used to get incredibly embarrassed because I could tell it was a sexual reference but didn’t really get what or how since I was in elementary school.

    • I also have one right there, on my lower back! It’s shaped kinda like a tribal design… almost everyone who sees it can’t help but call it my ‘tramp stamp’…

  22. I used to have a star-shaped freckle on the inside of my right knee. I’ve always loved it, but it’s fading now for some strange reason. Now it looks more like a tiny chubby ghost or Patrick Starfish doing a cheerleading move… With a little imagination

  23. My birthway is on the inner side of my right calf. It’s fairly large and dark compared to my light skin. The crazy thing is that my dad has the EXACT same mark – same place, shape, color, everything. Just like his dad. And his dad before him. It’s the Eigler Family Birth Mark. More reliable than any home DNA test.

    I used to feel weird about wearing shorts, but now I don’t. The only time I get freaked out or slightly pissed is when people assume it’s a disease or condition. That sort of irks me only because then it becomes like an “ewwww” thing.

  24. My older brother and I both have a “wine stain” on the backs of our necks right near the hairline that go up into our scalps. The obstetrician told my mom both times that it would go away, but it didn’t. For me, my long hair covers it. He’s a red-head living in the South, so he’s sunburned most of the time, so no one sees it. Oh, and I also have a light brown birthmark on my upper thigh that is in the shape of Vatican City. You’d only see it in a bikini and I don’t wear that type of swim suit, so I don’t get comments. But I like it.

  25. Interesting read! I have a birthmark on my face too! It’s very small but it’s bright red and looks like a drop of blood. Adults rarely comment on it, but children often do. ‘What happened to your face?’ ‘Are you bleeding?’ ‘Does it hurt?’ The one time I had my makeup professionally done, she layered foundation over it until it disappeared, without comment. I’m also covered in moles, but no one ever tries to cover them up.

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