I vaguely remember, when I was younger, being told by someone – a friend, or a TV show, or a YouTuber – that we should be comfortable with our quirks, because they’re the parts of us that the person we are romantically ‘meant to be with’ will love the most. The mole on your stomach, the birthmark on your hip, the stretch marks on your leg: these things are waiting to be loved by someone.
Back then, I thought that was a really nice sentiment. It a lot sounds like the mushy stuff I used to read in romance novels. I do, though, agree with it: people who love us love our so-called ‘imperfections’ the most. Then again, I don’t agree that I should have to wait for someone else to love these things for me, as if on my behalf. Can’t I just skip out the middle man and do that myself?
Yes. Yes, I can. And I do. I know that my freckles are cute. I know that certain ones in particular – the big ones, the misshapen ones, the ones that sit alone – are even cuter. They’re unique. They make me unique.
I know that my hair is a nice colour, even if I used to hate the red in it. I know that my feet are a nice size, even though I used to be conscious of them being child-size. I know that my knees are absolutely fine, though I used to think they looked misshaped. I know that the bruises on my legs aren’t ugly but a sign that I’m alive – that I’m moving and living my life, being clumsy and bruising like a peach.
I like that I’m so pale that it literally reflects sunlight away from me. I used to be so sad that I didn’t tan, but I still get sun-kissed, still look healthy. More than that, I get more freckles, which is always fun.
I know that my stretch marks are – contrary to whatever authority that has taught us to treat them as imperfections – actually really cool. I love the way they look when the sun hits them – they actually glisten. Self-love Instagram pages peddle the idea that stretch marks are like tiger stripes and women are as fierce as tigers. I prefer to think of my stretch marks for what they are: signs that I’ve grown, aged, my body’s changed, and my skin has stretched around whatever is now inside of me.
I love the unique parts of me the most, and, in the past few years, I’ve grown from a self-conscious teenager into a self-confident women. I don’t pass a mirror without looking in it, without reminding myself who I am and what I look like. It’s something I used to recoil from, discontent with the chubby cheeks reflected back at me, the spot on my lip, the discoloration on my cheeks.
I don’t actually know what the pivot point was, other than going to university and learning what it is, to a small extent, to be an adult. The insecurities that used to dominate my mind and occupy my days are replaced with wandering thoughts and ambitions: what I could do with my body rather than what I couldn’t; where I could take it rather than how it hinders me.
I don’t believe in imperfection. Absolutely nothing in life is anywhere close to perfect, so what’s the point of trying to distinguish things as imperfect? Try telling that to 13-year-old me, or even 17-year-old me: she wouldn’t agree. But 19-year-old me is pretty content with her ‘imperfections’, whatever that even means.