11/13/2014 09:29 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Unusual Body Feature I Didn't Expect I'd Come To Treasure

Tiphanie Yanique sings the praises of our perfectly imperfect bodies -- warts, moles, freckles, scars, cowlicks, crooked noses, gap teeth and all.

By Tiphanie Yanique

I have a mole beneath my right breast. It's been there since before I had breasts -- since I was born, in fact. I wish it were a pretty, flat thing, especially given its potentially sexy location. But it's rounded and raised, unmissable and frank, an inelegant spot interrupting the smooth skin that surrounds it. When I was pregnant with my daughter, my breasts were so large I could no longer see my mole. I almost missed it.

My grandmother's mole was beneath her eye. Hers wasn't pretty either. Her glasses sometimes rested on it -- a strange image -- but when people mentioned removing it, she just shrugged and smiled. My daughter's mole is on the ring finger of her left hand, like a wedding band.

These aren't beauty marks, like a freckle located suggestively above the lip. Ours are ungainly. Maybe there's a meaning to them. If so, I don't know the meaning.

But I do know that these marks -- and yours, and everyone's -- signify us being us. If I ever have amnesia and can't identify myself, this mole might remind me that I was me. I've come to treasure it. The mole is intimate in its placement, like a secret I have. It's unique to me even as it binds me to the women in my family. In some ways, this is true of all of us: We are each of us singular, and so in our shared singularity we are the same. And that meaning is good enough for me.

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