As a child, I wondered at times about this huge black mark I have on my left upper thigh. It is a very huge mark in my opinion. I just did not understand why I would have such a huge defect and why it was not fading away. No one made me self-conscious about it at all, and if they did, I do not remember. It was just this huge thing that marked my leg!
I remember asking my sisters what it was when they were giving me a bath and I was told it used to be a rash. Now that made it terrible because if it was from a rash that I had as a baby, why had the mark not faded? What did I have to do to get rid of it? Was there no doctor who could help me? The story about it being a rash was very believable. See, it is not a solid shape. At the ends it breaks off into little spots that look like they could have been a rash. At times I felt it actually itched. The strength of the mind at work right there ladies and gentlemen! It never did really!
For some years I carried on wondering about this rash until I figured my mother would know better, perhaps explain how I had contracted such a rash, and why it left such a mark. Couldn’t something have been done? Well, mum’s answer was not what I expected nor hoped for. “It’s a birthmark,” she said. Now see, that changed things totally. If it is a birthmark, it is not going anywhere any time soon, nor in this life time. It belongs there, it and I are one……for life!
So now with this new information, I started to analyze it. The shape, the color, the size! What did it mean to have such a huge birthmark? It is not the only one I have for that matter, but most definitely the largest I have and had seen on anyone I had come across. I imagined my mum, pregnant with me, drinking a hot cup of tea and the heat of the tea reaching me somehow and burning my leg, leaving a huge burn mark forever. I have always had quite an imagination!
Thenn there was primary school. I expected that when it was swimming time and I had to wear a bathing suit around the other children in my class I would get teased. Well, I will have you know that there was not one child who made fun of me. Never in my life have I had a bad experience with people. I might have been asked a few times what the mark was, but it was never nasty. Not even my haters have used it against me! I guess I was not self-conscious enough about it to draw that kind of attention, who knows!
I had a strange relationship with my birthmark. I was not ashamed of it at all and most of the time I forgot it was there. The only thing is, I used it as my miniskirt and shorts measure. I have always been free to wear short dresses but I told myself if the birthmark is exposed, even when I sit down, then my clothing item is too short. Did I always check, not really, but when I did that was the rule.
I Left Zimbabwe for the Cruise ships for the first time in 2001. Being on ships meant a lot of times I would be in the Caribbean or someplace where there was obviously a beach. I would go to the beach in comfortable beach wear which was normally short and end up in a bathing suit. There were loads of opportunities to show off my birthmark without even noticing it. Then one day I realized the rule had fallen away. I was just too comfortable to care.
To be honest with you, by this time in my life I loved my birthmark. Yes I still saw it as a defect, but it was different, it was mine, it is me. So I have been sporting it freely. I remember when I decided I wanted to get a tattoo done but was trying to decide where to place it. I did consider it being done on my birthmark. However I was afraid it might cause the birthmark to go bad and turn into something else or just spoil its appearance.
Now in recent events, I found myself surrounded by all types of artists. Poets, actors, singers, writers, disc jockeys, you name it! Also in that list were designers and photographers. Two of those photographers showed an interest in me that surprised me a little, taking into account that I am now on the wrong side of forty. One actually came up to me and asked if I would be interested in posing as a nude model. I do understand this is a form of art however it can easily misinterpreted by a lot of people and seen as porn, especially if the photographer is not that experienced.
Well I went on to tell him my age, the fact that I am short and have a tattoo on my back. I also had to stress that I have a huge birthmark on my thigh. It seemed all that to him was of little significance. Shocking!
The thought of posing nude was just too much for me and I tried to see how I could ever convince myself to do that, more so as a Zimbabwean living in Zimbabwe and having to walk the same streets after. Women here still have a long way to go in terms of being free and people are not so open-minded when it comes to these things. I saw absolutely no benefit to me in any way. I did find the request quite interesting though.
I had another interesting experience soon after. I needed outfits for a photo shoot and since I knew a designer, I had a little chat with her. She was most willing and provided a few. Now her label has mainly revealing pieces. So I told her that I have a birthmark. She too had no issues with that. Instead she went on to add that this could be a plus for me. Apparently my defect is not that big a defect.
Just now, as I am typing, I Googled ‘models with birthmarks’ and was surprised to find so much positivity towards birthmarks, and loads of beautiful pictures taken of people with some marks even larger and a lot more visible than my own. Well that’s just done it! I have gone from wondering how I could get rid of the mark that was left by a rash, then understanding it is a birthmark and a part of me, to loving it.
I guess everything that makes you different may seem ugly or odd until you own it, love it, and embrace it totally. Everything you are can be positive, even what you think is a defect. I will also add that you do not need to wait to be told it is acceptable. Choosing to accept, love and wear that ‘defect’ with the type of pride in it that it deserves makes it just beautiful, and anyone who would have wanted to say otherwise, of no effect.