How giving myself a "scar" helped my daughter's self-image

My four-year-old daughter got a nasty cut on her chin a couple of months ago. Neosporin and Band-Aids did the trick while it healed, but it scarred -- badly. Unfortunately, it appears my little one inherited my skin's tendency to form keloid scars, which raise and spread beyond the original area of the wound. I think that my daughter's scar will get better with time and lots of Mederma, but she became extremely upset and self-conscious about the appearance of an "ugly" scar on her tiny, little chin.

A few days ago, my daughter started crying about her scar before going to school. It broke my heart to hear such a young child already so worried about her appearance, and nothing that I did seemed to reassure her. I reassured her that scars in kids her age usually get better in time, and that she'll always be very beautiful even if the scar doesn't go away. But my feeble attempts at reassurance didn't help at all.

Finally, I had an idea. "Honey," I said, "Do you think I'm pretty?"

"Yes," she responded, sniffling. I knew she'd say that; every little girl thinks her mother is pretty. I'm no pageant queen, but I know that I'll always be beautiful in my daughter's eyes, because she loves me.

"What if I had a big scar on my chin?" I asked. She said I would still be "the most beautiful lady in the whole world."

I went into the bathroom, opened the makeup kit I had used at Halloween, and painted a convincing-looking scar on my chin, right where my daughter has her own real scar. I came out of the bathroom and asked her, "Do you think I'm still beautiful?"

My little girl wiped a tear out of her eye and said yes. Then she asked if I would keep my "scar" until hers gets better. I agreed, and I've been reapplying my make-up "scar" several times a day ever since. In the mornings, I start by applying a little Mederma to her chin to help her scar fade faster, and then I paint a twin blemish onto my own chin. Every time I do so, my daughter remarks, "You're still very beautiful!" and I respond, "So are you." We both go on with our days feeling confident about ourselves and our appearance.

I periodically feel a little self-conscious about the "scar" I've been wearing on my chin, and I admit that there are times I remove it when she's not around. I think many people have noticed the weird, ugly spot on my chin. I've seen a few tilted heads and squinted eyes, but, thanks to common courtesy, it has never been mentioned. In those moments, when I see someone clearly wondering what that thing is on my face, I feel a moment of embarrassment, quickly replaced by a feeling of pride. Maybe I look a little funny with a fake scar, but at least I know I earned it honorably. I'd like to think that, in addition to helping to preserve my little girl's own positive self-image, I'm also helping to teach an important lesson: that it's always more important to be a good person than a pretty person, and that helping the people we love always takes priority over looking nice.

I don't know how long it will be before the scar on my daughter's chin fades, or if I may end up painting a scar on my chin for the next 10 years as an act of solidarity. I do know that my act of solidarity helped my daughter not to be scarred by her scar. My advice to other moms: if your little one is upset about a scar, birthmark, or anything else she perceives as disfiguring, give yourself the same treatment in solidarity. By seeing that you still look like the same gorgeous mom she knows and loves, she'll realize how beautiful she really is -- with or without a little blemish.