By Audrey Blankenheim
Ever since I can remember, I have had a mole on the left side of my neck. It is a dark brown and the size of a pea. Over the years, two more small moles have appeared. The smaller moles rest right above the bigger, like 2 moons rotating around their planet.
I first took awareness to this mole during kindergarten. Kindergarten was a time for me blessed with the absence of body shame, a time where I was more focused on how my drawn horses appeared than how I did. I distinctly remember it was the end of the day, and my class was lining up to leave. The boy behind me poked my neck and yelled, “MOLE”. I was humiliated. I had barely recognized my mole, and there he was, announcing my blemish for the world to see. It was at this time that I gained the fear that maybe it was weird I had a mole. Maybe it was different. Being a shy kid, having any reason to be noticed terrified me.
I remember being cautious, especially around that boy, to hide my mole. I would push my hair to rest on that side of my neck. I hated the idea that I was different, and that other people could see the dissimilarity.
After years of fighting this shame for my mole, I have finally come to love it. This love began with my realization that the world is bigger than my kindergarten classroom. It is not as intimidating to stand out in a place with so much diversity.
Once I learned to accept the uniqueness of this planet that resides on my neck, I began to appreciate it for its beauty. It is a simple dot that highlights the long, elegance of my neck. My neck is one feature of my body that I have always admired. It is perfectly proportioned between my shoulders. It is slender and defined. Despite its splendor, I felt forced to cover it to protect my mole from seeing the world. Now I hold back my shield of hair and appreciate my mole as an accessory, only to enhance what I already love.
In addition to its physical beauty, my mole has a way of connecting me to my childhood. While I have lost my baby teeth, my hair has changed color, and my body has shifted through puberty, my mole has always been there and will continue to do so. It is a validation that while so much in my life is in transition, I will never drift so far as to lose my mole.
Lastly, my mole is solely mine. I have my dad’s nose and my mom’s eyes. My skin belongs to my German heritage. Even the majority of my clothes have at one point belonged to my sister. In a world of borrowed identity, my mole is my own.