Blood streaming down faces and bombs exploding in the air are what come to mind when one thinks of a war or a battle, but not all wars or battles are bloody and tangible. Some battles are fought within oneself. A battle everyone, including the protagonist of “Birthmark” by Miranda July, faces is the battle of beauty. “Birthmark” by Miranda July is a short story about a girl who had a prominent port-wine birthmark, and after the removal of her birthmark, the girl was left questioning her identity and beauty. The girl realized near the end of the story that she was beautiful because of her birthmark, not in spite of it. Miranda July’s short story “Birthmark” shows that people’s imperfections are what make them uniquely beautiful and peculiarly interesting through the actions, thoughts, and relationships of the protagonist.
Miranda July carefully planned the main character’s actions for the readers to see how people’s flaws make them compellingly beautiful. Although the battle of beauty is internal, there are external factors that come into play as well. Society is one such pressure. “She didn’t think she would have bothered if she hadn’t been what people call ‘very beautiful except for'” (July 170). The girl would not have removed her birthmark if it were not for society’s judgment. However, the action of removing her birthmark was vital. If the protagonist would have not gotten her birthmark removed, she would have never realized how much of her identity and beauty was concentrated within her birthmark.
In addition to using the girl’s actions to portray how people’s blemishes are the reason for people’s allure, Miranda July also used the girl’s thoughts. Right after the birthmark’s removal, July wrote, “Then you know that winning is many things, but it never the thing you thought it would be” (171). This quote is the first sign of the protagonist’s regret. The protagonist had not yet realized the magnitude of removing her birthmark, but she was starting to feel a “a real sense of loss” (July 172). The girl’s thoughts then noticeably seeped into her feelings: “She would see a couple and one of them would have a port-wine stain and the other would clearly be in love with this stained person and she would hate her husband a little. And [her husband] could feel it” (July 172-173). The protagonist thought that her husband would not have been attracted to her if he would have met her with her port-wined stain. However, July shows the readers in the end that the husband would love the girl even more with her birthmark because the imperfect birthmark is part of her perfect beauty.
Along with the protagonist’s actions and thoughts, July shows how people’s imperfections are why people are beautiful through the protagonist’s relationships with her husband and even strangers. As aforementioned, the girl and her husband “wordlessly excused each other for not loving each other as much as they had planned to” (July 173). The girl’s marriage was negatively affected because the girl thought that she was beautiful in spite of her imperfections and not because of her imperfections; not until her birthmark came back did she realize that she was wrong in thinking that way. Not only was her marriage affected, but her encounters with strangers were affected, too. As soon as she removed her birthmark, she saw people treated her differently. “Any fool on the bus could play the game of guessing how perfect she would look without [her birthmark]. Now there was not this game to play, there was just a spent feeling “(July 171). In that moment, the character realized deeply within herself that she should have never removed her beautiful birthmark.
In summary, “Birthmark” by Miranda July conveyed through the protagonist’s actions, thoughts, and relationships that people’s imperfections are what make them distinguished and compelling. Concerns about beauty are everywhere. People might not have a birthmark on their face, but everybody has some kind of imperfection. The removal of the girl’s birthmark, the thoughts of regret the girl had, and the negative relationships the girl had served to show July’s readers that they must accept their imperfections. Once people accept their beautiful flaws, their internal battles against beauty will be conquered.