Just over a week ago, I was featured on @we.defintebeauty – an incredibly supportive and uplifting Instagram page where people discuss overcoming insecurities and talk about their ‘flaws’. My birthmark story was shared and the response was phenomenal. I scrolled through a multitude of kind messages, read other people’s birthmark stories…
… and then I read a comment that soured my mood. The comment has now been deleted so I can’t screenshot it or write it out word for word, but in a nutshell the person scoffed that my birthmark was barely noticeable and that I should spend my time worrying about other things. It pains me to admit it because I hate to let things get to me, but that comment took some of the shine off of the nice ones.
I want to dissect that comment to raise a point about insecurities, how they are unique to a person and how another person’s dismissal of them does nothing to help that person overcome their confidence block.
Whilst I don’t disagree with part of the comment that states that there are other things to worry about, the post about my visible difference was shared on a platform that talks exclusively about differences with the aim of normalising them. The point of the page is to focus on the very same thing that I was told not to spend my time focusing on. People discuss things from acne to disabilities to skin conditions to scarring, reclaiming them and giving themselves back the power to decide what is a ‘flaw’ and what is not.
@we.definebeauty is not a place to discuss politics or sexism or to insult or belittle other people – it’s a place for people to connect, to feel good and to empower others. My birthmark story was about overcoming the nasty comments I grew up with and reaching a place of confidence, a story I shared in the hopes that it might resonate with someone else who could be struggling.
It annoyed me that my post was soured by unnecessary negativity. A post that I was proud of, talking about something that hasn’t always been easy to talk about, was chipped at by someone who offered nothing positive or supportive to the conversation.
The part that really annoyed me was the ‘it’s barely even noticeable’ comment. Whilst most people are able to see beyond my birthmark, most of my insecurity comes as a consequence of the actions and comments of the people who only see it when they look at me. The hurt and embarrassment I have felt comes from a very real place and it is not for a keyboard warrior to dismiss.
And dismissed is how I felt reading their comment.
There’s a difference between telling someone that you didn’t notice something about them and telling them that they need to get over it because it’s not noticeable enough to you. I don’t say my birthmark is noticeable from insecurity or vanity – I say it from experience. Whilst five people might say that they can barely see it, there will always be one person who does and thinks that my difference makes me fair game, that they have the right to comment or joke. For the girl who threw a coin at my head for target practise, the people who told me I should be on TV shows like Too Ugly For Love and the people who told me I could never be pretty unless I covered it up, it was noticeable.
The attention people paid to my birthmark was enough to make me insecure. I’m less insecure now, but when I talk about how my birthmark has impacted my confidence, it isn’t up to a stranger to tell me I am wrong. If you haven’t walked in a person’s shoes, you don’t get to decide their feelings. Just because you might not see the problem, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there for that person.
I implore people to think before they speak or type. If you don’t like what you see or read, keep scrolling. If you don’t want to be supportive on a page that’s sole purpose is to support, don’t follow it. If you want a debate, join a discussion board. Take your confrontation where it’s wanted. Think about the platform you share your ideas on – there is someone on the other end of the screen reading what you have written. Your words have consequences. Think about them. Choose them carefully.