I went to the dermatologist the other day – as we’ve mentioned here before, the beginning of winter is the perfect time to have your moles checked out and any other undesirables that might have shown up or changed over the summer.
So I get naked* and the inspection begins. As far as moles go – nothing, but I had noticed a tiny sun spot on my face. I mean, maybe. I wasn’t sure. It was hidden among my freckles, so I wondered if I was just being crazy, since I know I’m usually pretty ridiculously paranoid**.
“Did you grow up in a sunny place?”
Bingo. It was definitely a sun spot, and I swear, I’m really careful. Well, ok, I did spend my childhood running around naked on the beach back when women smeared olive oil and lemon juice on their bodies to get a better tan, but once I turned fourteen and discovered The Cure, I stopped going to the beach and learned the joys of sunblock.
But even so, I still got a sun spot. Merde!
“What can I do about it?”
“Well, you can try a laser! But for you, it’s going to be complicated. If you do it locally, it will make the freckles around your sun spot go away, and it will look weird. You’ll have a white spot there. The other option a lot of women choose is to laser your whole face. I actually do that a lot – I remove freckles entirely.”
“What!? No more freckles ever again?”
“Nope. I mean, you’ll keep the darker ones, which are actually beauty marks” she told me, pointing out three lonely beauty marks on my face.
So I tried to imagine myself without freckles. I know a lot of people hate their freckles and have them removed. But my freckles…they’re one of the things I like most about myself. I only have them on my face. They get lighter in the winter, they multiply and get darker in the summer, and I always look forward to that.
A lot of people see them as a flaw, but I’ve always found them beautiful. And you know how critical I can be with myself!
I loved them even when I was ten years old. I thought they made me look different. I was the only one in my family who had them. I always thought they were lovely on other people, and especially so in Peter Lindbergh‘s photos.
I can remember certain photo series where I was so touched up that every single freckle was removed by an editor who probably thought I’d be really happy about it. But in the end, I didn’t even recognize myself.
So after thinking about it for 35 seconds, I decided to say no. I’m keeping my sun spot, I’ll just put on twice as much sunblock from now on.
It made me realize how much we identify with certain things about ourselves. They mark our personality and define us.***
It also made me think of the Renee Zellweger debate. You’ve probably heard about it : this year, she literally changed her face, and she’s getting a ton of hate about it. But really, she’s not the first one to have plastic surgery, so what happened?
I think that what’s different is that she touched something that made her unique : her lids. It must have been crazy to wake up and see a new face. Because I’m pretty sure that even the things we hate about ourselves define us and help us be in touch with who we are.
Do you have that yourself? Something a little bit imperfect, that you love and that you would never change?
*Well, almost. Actually, it’s really funny. In the US, doctors are really weird about nudity. So I had this gigantic smock on held together by a string and the doctor looked at one part at a time, like it was some kind of bizarre dance. So I told her I could just get naked if it would be easier, I don’t mind. But I saw a fear pass over her: maybe she’s afraid I’ll accuse her of sexual harassment later? Or maybe she’ll accuse me? So I kept the weird smock on and thought to myself how people are a lot more relaxed about nudity in France.
And then I remembered my last visit to a beauty salon, where the esthetician told me (when i was completely nude) “Alright, now get on all fours!!!” (I looked scared for a second and then did as I was told) but ok, she’s Korean. But all of this happens in the US. So what are you supposed to think, I wonder.
** I have a mole on my back that I’ve been really nervous about and have had checked at least five times because it’s right in the spot where my bra clasp sits. Every time, the dermatologist tells me right away, “No, this mole is nothing to worry about. You’ll never have any problems with it, ever.” “Are you absolutely sure?” “NEVER?” But that doesn’t stop me from worrying about it every few years and thinking that it’s changed and that maybe the dermatologists don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m crazy.
*** Like that time I lost too much weight and looked like Gisele’s hotter sister, but I didn’t feel like me.