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 have a brownish birthmark on my face. It’s on my jawline, near my ear. I honestly don’t really think about it, but it’s not very dark. I also have a heart on my left boob. That’s my fav one. ^_^

  2. I was born with a funny pink patch on my scalp. Hair never grew there, and my mom thought it was just a funny birth mark. My hair had always been long enough to cover it, so it never bothered me much as a kid.

    However, when I went to a dermatologist for a completely unrelated matter, my mom had him take a look at it. Turns out it was a precancerous mole, and if they hadn’t found it when they did (I was 11) it would have caused a lot of problems. So it was removed a week later.

    So now I have a little bald spot on my head, but my hair is long enough to cover it, so it never bothers me much now.

    But I learned it’s always good to have a doctor take a look-see, even if it’s been there since birth.

  3. I have a large vascular birthmark on my left arm and back. It started as a heart-shaped tattoo on my bicep when I was born, and then grew across my upper arm and back as I hit my teens. Usually it looks like a rash that’s on the mend, but when I get hot or exert a lot of upper body effort (which happened a lot when I was doing circus) it gets VERY red and a lot more noticeable. I’ve lost count of the number of people that have stopped me to express their concern that I’m having an allergic reaction or have some sort of injury. I usually just quickly reassure them that it’s just a birthmark, and then move on to some other topic of conversation.

    However I used to be very self-conscious about it, to the point where in my teens I was convinced I would wear a wedding dress with long sleeves…and I was that girl who never day-dreamed about her wedding day. But at some point during the wedding planning process– after trying on a few dresses with sleeves, all of which looked TERRIBLE on me — I suddenly decided I didn’t care about the birthmark. I just wanted to wear something that was comfortable, simple, and affordable. And that was the final push to get me totally over my birthmark. I barely even think about it any more.

  4. I have a white birthmark on my back. This big splotchy thing only appears when I tan because of the contrast otherwise it blends in to the skin around it.

  5. I have a mole and a freckle on my right cheek. When I was a little kid my aunts (who were models) used to use me as a living doll and dress me up and put make up on me, and they used to take an eyebrow pencil and darken my marks and call them beauty spots. Because of that I always thought they were quite special and make me prettier.

  6. My niece was born with a birthmark on her forehead. My brother referred to it as the “Boot of Italy” because that’s exactly how it was shaped. His ex-wife was super concerned about it though (read: completely crazy about the “imperfection”). She consulted doctor after doctor after doctor who all told her not to worry about it, but she wanted to have plastic surgery done on the wee lass ASAP. Fortunately, my brother (ever the more sane of the two) put his foot down and said, “No.”

    The thing about birthmarks is that sometimes they just go away on their own, which is exactly what happened to my niece.

    It’s almost impossible to find a photograph of my niece’s birthmark now though because my ex-SIL always covered it up with jauntily positioned hats to hide it. By the time my niece turned four, as predicted, the hats were retired because the birthmark had indeed faded away. One day, not long after it had faded for good, my niece was visiting me in my apartment and asked to look through my photo albums. She was laughing and flipping through the old pictures of herself as a baby and toddler when she came upon a rare picture of herself without a hat. Her finger brushed over the birthmark in the photograph, sort of stroking it. She sighed then and looked up at me, “I miss my birthmark. Wasn’t it pretty?” Yes, yes, it was.

    I also have a mark. Mine isn’t a birthmark, though. It’s telangiectasia. And it’s not just one, but hundreds. Mostly, the red spots aren’t that noticeable when I have makeup on. They look a little like freckles shining through. But the one on my tongue is screaming red. It’s positioned directly in the middle of my tongue, so when I am talking, it flashes like a piercing. People who don’t know me always question me about whether or not the “piercing” hurt. When I explain that it’s not a piercing, they get really embarrassed for some reason, like they’ve been caught pointing out a missing eye or something. Conversely, doctors get really excited when they see it. I’ve had dozens whip out their cameras and take pictures, with and without permission. Kids, though, they’re straight up, “What’s that?” I explain. They move on.

  7. I have a birthmark on my inner thigh, so high up you would only be able to see it if I wore bikini bottoms. It’s a pretty pale undefined blotch though, so I do wonder if anyone would notice if I did show it off. I’ve always liked having a birthmark since I noticed it when I was five. It made me feel special to have something other people did not have. The attached earlobes were my complex until I got them pierced, as well as the small mole by my eye, oddly enough.

  8. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s stories. No birthmarks here, but YES, lots and lots of moles. Most of them are flat, but I have a big “witchy” raised one on the top of my nose, where my glasses rest. Since I’ve stopped wearing contacts, whenever someone who has never seen me without glasses on catches a glimpse of me, they look at it. Even if they don’t say anything, I’m pretty sure I usually catch people look at it and then look away. I was very embarrassed about it as a kid and then when I started wearing contacts.

    What’s interesting about my other moles is that I usually don’t pride myself in them OR get self-conscious about them; I usually forget about them entirely until I see a photo of myself and realize, “Damn, I am covered in moles!” It always takes me aback. Do any of you forget your physical features until you see yourself in pics? Should I look in the mirror more? But I feel like I can’t see them in the mirror, even naked, because I’m just so used to seeing my skin the way it is.

    Well, one other thing: lately I HAVE noticed my moles more… because my daughter has noticed them while she nurses. She liked to twist each of the two moles I have in my boob-meet-armpit area and it HURTS when she does it. She also likes to touch other moles gently right before falling asleep. Seeing myself through her eyes is always revelatory — even just as a reminder of what my body would like like to someone who sometimes knows it better than I do.

  9. Ooh ooh, I have a birthmark! It’s basically a small potato on my hip. I’ve always liked it, but I liked it even more when I realized my best friend from college (who became my best man) had a matching birthmark. Weird, right? But the best part, is that one day I hope to get over my fear of needles to turn it into a tattoo of a sea turtle. Former editor of Offbeat Home, Cat Rocketship once tattooed it onto my with ink.

  10. I have a large birthmark on my face. It’s a brown stripe that goes from my hairline down to the bridge of my nose, under my left eye to my ear, and then down my jawline to my mouth. When I was younger, it was quite dark, especially in contrast to the rest of my skin, which is pale. It has faded as I grew older. When I was in the 4th grade, the girl next to me told me I had chocolate on my face the first time we met. In high school, people often thought it was a makeup line. My FH only saw it for the first time last year, and we’ve been dating since 2007! The fade has been nice, I never particularly loved it. Not that I thought it was something disfiguring, but I have always been an introvert, and never liked that it drew attention to me. Now, I think it’s nifty in the summer that my freckles are more dense on the right side of my face than the left (marked) side! I also have moles and freckles all over my body, and I have always loved them.

  11. Okay, no birthmark here, but I *do* have a third nipple. No foolin’. It sits on the underside of my left boob. Here’s the wikipedia entry, if you’re curious: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernumerary_nipple

    I used to be embarrassed by it, but now it doesn’t bother me. It’s really little, and only barely resembles a full-sized nipple, but that’s definitely what it is.

    Also, great thread. 🙂

    • I have a third nipple too!!! It’s genetically dominant in my family. My Poppop, my dad and his three brothers, and me and my brother and sister all have this wee tiny nipple in the exact same spot on our ribs. You would think it was a little flesh colored mole unless you looked hard with intent lol. The face my brother made when we finally told him was so. incredibly. priceless.

  12. I don’t have a birthmark, but I do have a very noticeable, old 2 inch scar on my back from where I had a mole removed when I was four. Since I was so little when it was done, the skin has grown and stretched as I grew, and now it is an almost rectangular patch of smooth skin right on my shoulder blade. When people ask about it, I often very casually say “knife fight” and leave it at that.

    • I have the exact same thing on my back as well. When people ask about it I tell them I had some of my vertebrae fused together. The funniest part is that half the people can’t tell if I’m joking or not!

  13. I have a cafe au lait birthmark at the top of my right butt cheek, which I always worried about when I was younger. What would lovers think?! Now I think it’s kinda cute and my husband didn’t notice it until I pointed it out, even though it’s about an inch wide.

    Our munchkins all have matching birthmarks, which is cute and awesome. They have stork bite marks at the base of their skulls and matching ones on their eyelids. The eyelid ones tend to disappear by 18 months, but while they’re there, those birthmarks become brighter when the kids are tired. They also have a pale purple mark in the third eye area, which also darkens when they’re tired and disappears by 18-24 months. Our eldest has a white patch on her leg, which I commented “It looks like she tore her stockings!” after she was born (I’d been awake for 3 days). The middle munchkin has a cafe au lait mark on her jawline which I once thought was dirt, and our youngest has one on his hip. They’re all so cute and I love them. The older two seem to think so too, which is good.

    • My brother and I both have storkbites on our foreheads. My cousin had one, too.
      Mine faded out by elementary school, except when I was overheated or upset. My brother’s faded more slowly, but was still visible when he was overheated up until highschool. He didn’t have the back one, so I always assumed I didn’t have it either. The first time I saw it, I was 22 and thought it was a weird hickey. My boyfriend(now husband, who will not let me live this down) insisted on his innocence. I didn’t believe him and called my mom to confirm. What kind of parent never tells you about a big red splotch on the back of your neck/head? “We thought you’d never notice it.” It’s pretty well hidden in my hairline in the back, but… still!

  14. I have a birthmark on the middle of my palm. My mom said when I was little she thought it was dirt and almost rubbed my hand raw trying to get it off.

    I mostly forget about it until someone notices and says something. Inside your hand is apparently a very strange place to have a birthmark, according to the comments I get

  15. I have a cafe au lait birthmark on my abdomen that’s about 5 inches by 3 inches. It has never bothered me, it was just there, like my curly toes. When I was little I always thought the birthmark looked liked Australia, even though it looks absolutely nothing like Australia (more like Mongolia). Now, I just morbidly think that it would be a great way to identify my body if I was decapitated or otherwise dead and unrecognizable. 😛

  16. I have a brown birthmark on my knee shaped like a bird in flight, which I’ve always considered pretty cool. And if I remember correctly from bath-time 25 years ago, my sisters and I also all have the same mole on our inner thigh.

  17. I have a birthmark on my left shin. It’s darker than the rest of my skin and has a triangle shape. For a while in high school some friends lovingly called me start trek because they thought my birth mark looked like the logo from the show.

    I like it. I figure if I lose both my legs between the knee and ankle I’ll be able to tell them apart and get them reattached on the proper side 🙂

  18. my son has a dark brown birth mark on his cheek ( you can see it on this photo http://instagram.com/p/l0k0fkB0tq/ ) – when he was born the nurses said “don’t worry, it’ll fade over time” and we said “i hope it doesn’t!” and it hasn’t.
    it’s part of what makes him unique. we call it his smooch mark, and plant kisses on it non-stop.
    i think birth marks are wonderful, though it’s easy for me to say that as someone who doesn’t have to live with people commenting on mine all the time (it’s on my hand and very light). i DO know how irritating, and occasionally threatening, it can be to have people make unsolicited comments about your body, because i have several large and prominent tattoos (though i get that that’s not the same because i got those by choice).
    thanks for this post. it was interesting to read your experience.

  19. I have a birthmark that takes up half my left cheek. On the upper half it has hyper pigmentation and on the lower half none. When I was younger, it bothered me, being self conscious. I learned how to apply professional grade cosmetics to hide it by the fifth grade. Quite a few decades later I see that as my entry into the art of cosmetics and with the fortunate growth of my confidence in my teens, never looked back. When I was asked the other day about it I worried about the blending of my bb cream and not the mark. I hadn’t thought of it in literally years.

  20. I have 3. Two are nearly invisible brown-grey patches, slightly larger than a quarter and ink-blot shaped: one between my belly button and right hip, and one on my left thigh. Never really notice them. I don’t think I even noticed they were there until my teens because they’re so faint (and up until I discovered the Internet, I was actually capable of tanning and fairly active in sports).

    I have a fairly large brown one on my left elbow that is often mistaken for a bruise or dirt. I’m see-though pale, so it really stands out. People don’t often mention it though–who really looks that closely at anyone’s elbows? The ones who mention it usually ask how I got that impressive bruise.

    When I was younger (10 or so), it was a badge of uniqueness. After that, I sorta forgot about it–and continue to do so to this day. Just as an experiment I asked the other half if he knew where my birthmarks were–he couldn’t tell me! I suppose if even he doesn’t know where they are, I shouldn’t worry about anyone else.

  21. I had a beauty mark (aka mole) on my left cheek. It wasn’t actually a birthmark ( it doesn’t appear in photos until I was about 8 or 9) but It seemed like I had it as long as I could remember. Anyway, a couple years ago it began to itch and get irritated. My GP thought it looked a bit odd so she referred me to a cosmetic surgeon. The surgeon agreed it looked irregular and so we decided to remove it. I have to say, I was sad to see it go. I felt like it made me more unique and gave my face more personality.

  22. I have quite a few birthmarks, two red dots less than 1cm diameter on the top of my right foot (one of which is covered by a tattoo now), what looks like a small cluster of freckles with whiter than normal skin underneath about an inch diameter, a red mark the same size, both on my left calf, a red mark a bit smaller on my right thigh, another small red dot on my stomach, a long cafe au lait on the back of my right calf.
    The two red marks, one on my thigh and the the one on my calf used to be bright red, my mum was worries about them, but the doctor told her they would fade to nothing in time, they faded to a lighter red, and now occasionally someone pokes (!!) the one on my calf and asks if it is a bruise. I don’t really understand that thought process!
    I think they are cool and interesting, I love seeing birthmarks on people!

  23. I have a brown splotchy birth mark low on my right butt cheek that was much darker when I was little. It shows when I wear any type of swimsuit and when I was little I was afraid people would think it was a poop splotch until my sister made fun of me for thinking that. ;D I think I’ve only had one person ask me what it is!

  24. I have a birthmark in my hair. I have about an inch thick swatch of silver/white hair on the front right side. It doesn’t take at home hair dye color and only absorbs some professional color. When I had my hair dyed auburn a few months ago, the birth mark faded to a strawberry pink after a few days. I actually love it and always have. It makes me feel a little like Rogue from X-Men.

    • Is that what it is?! I have a silver/white inch patch on the left hand side that does exactly the same thing. I love it, it’s really cool.

      • Poliosis? There was a kid in highschool had a couple of spots on the back of his buzz cut.

        • Possibly! My left side eyelashes are white/blonde and I also have random chunks of colour which amuses my hairdresser when I’m having a trim and haven’t had time to deal with my regrowth. “Ooooh! There’s red/silver/black here, I didn’t see that one last time.”

  25. I’ve got a small extra bit of flesh on my left thumb so it’s pretty hard to cover up. It looks like a mole but it’s the same color as the rest of my skin. I call it my “nubbin'” and I used it kind of like braille to learn my left from my right. Okay, I’ll be honest, I still use it to tell my left from my right. As a kid everyone thought it was a wart but I always gave the calm birth mark explanation. That usually didn’t help my case. The only draw back is it tends to catch on things and tear. As a result, it’s shrunk a little over the years. As odd as it sounds I would actually be pretty upset if I lost it.

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