It was in a changing room, a building styled and built in the 70’s, plastic carpet flooring, yellow walls and wooden benches when I heard it for the first time. We, a giddy bunch of 6 year olds where getting dressed in our little gymnastik costumes and sockiplast (all Swedes know what i am talking about) getting ready for cartwheels and tumble tosses, when someone suddenly laughs and screams JULIA HAS POO ON HER LEG! Making the whole room turn and stare at me. I looked down in horror ready to run far far away and never ever come back, searched those skinny little sticks for what the loud kid had boldly claimed was on them. But to my surprise and relief I saw, nothing, except the scratches I’d got from playing in the woods and a birthmark in shape of a little bird egg high up on my thigh. And that’s when I realized, pulsating with shame, it’s my birthmark she is talking about.
I suppose that in today’s standard it’s considered pure luxury to live in oblivion until you’re six years old. For six whole years I was without a flaw, wonderfully and perfectly made, destined for great things. My legs where good for climbing and running, my arms strong enough to carry what they needed, and I knew I was beautiful, not because I used to look myself in the mirror, but because my parents told me so.
And then, an impulsive comment from another child, a comment she probably forgot about as soon as the lesson started, made me so terribly ashamed of that little bird egg of mine, that I in that moment I just wanted to quit on life. Another child would probably have laughed it off, but for me it was the end of he world. And even if the story has got a happy ending (I managed still to finish 12 years of school and didn’t start with drugs), it still makes me upset, that for the following decade I thought that even if they don’t say it out loud, everyone will think I’ve got poo or period on my leg, people will think I’m disgusting. And I felt ashamed. Not for anything I’d done or seen, but for how I was made.
I know a birthmark is not a big thing. But we all, in different ways, during different stages of our life, learn through awfully creative bullying and ignorant, sometimes evil comments, that being me isn’t perfect. So this is just apone if many stories, but they are all heading in the same direction, all saying the same thing; Parts of me is shameful, part of me is not okay. No list needed, we’ve all received comments about noses, hair, laugh, teeth, appetite,hobbies, skills – or lack of them. Comments that say, get in the line, don’t stick out, don’t be who you are, be someone more like this or more like us.
And during a walk, a late august evening high above the streets of Siria, we caught ourselves, me and Miia, still talking as if we where not enough. And whilst the sun was hovering, big and red without feeling difficult about it, just behind the distant factories, ready to drop behind and disappear, we decided to stop. We decided to break the curse that our brain sometimes can be and turn it around. We wanted to turn a why into because, and pick the not away from the enough and smash it all together. Dedicate it to our six year old selves and put it on display.
We wanted to write a post to our future daughters about why they are kick ass just being themselves. We wanted to give today’s beauty ideals the finger and verbally express why we believe we are good, just as we are. And dedicate it to this messed up world.
So here it comes.