Being beautiful meant being skinny,“good” hair, and having the typical“womanly” hour glass curve. Being beautiful was everything that I am not. I am not skinny, my hair is not silky, nor am I hour glass figured. I lost a lot of weight and in this time my mother was not complaining as much about my appearance. She was the trigger to the conformity of my body. If ever someone brought up my weight she would be embarrassed for me, and being that she is my mom – I wanted nothing more than to make her happy. I was willing to change if it meant I wouldn’t have to be in this constant battle between my body and her words.
I lived in the Dominican Republic for five years before my immediate family separated and began their own lives in different places. My parents were no longer together, my older brother had moved to America, and all that was left was my mother, middle brother, and I. The separation of my family and the constant moving from America to D.R. forced me to learn how to manage on my own. Here is where I learned how to be strong, where I also learned the beauty of letting go of the things you can not handle. This is what you may consider my Beautype.
My mother is first and foremost a provider, she took care of me when I was sick, bought me the essentials needed, and always made sure that food was on the table. So do not mistake her to be anything less than the woman whom I respect.
I come from a generation of women who were not encouraged by neither the society they lived in nor their families, to be expressive. My Mother is amongst the many women in my lineage who were given no choice but to be emotionally stoic through the Dominican culture. So the view of beauty in my home was the total opposite of what I am.
Growing up I learned to love myself despite my mothers lack of emotional comfort. I have come to realize that with time I accept that this is who I’m going to be for the rest of my life. The weight can change, my hair will grow, things will look different as I continue to live – but this is who I am. Every girl has something that makes her feel like she’s not beautiful. The female figures in my life I’ve come to understand, do not know how to appreciate themselves and in turn reflect that self hatred upon the woman they birth. I don’t think my mother loved herself enough. She’ll make little comments like
“Oh you know what? I have a big nose, but when I was younger I used to be skinny.”
In her mind being skinny compensated or distracted people from the sight of her big nose. That told me a lot about my mothers insecurities and that even though society can have a big influence on you – a lot of self hatred stems from what you’re taught at home. Throughout my childhood , I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t told that my hair was to rough. My grandmother would brush my curls and I would cry out in pain asking for her to be more gentle.
“ Its because your hair is hard.”
“ Its because you look like THOSE people.”
She would be referring to my fathers side of the family, who they did not associate kindly too but were polite when needed. It came to a point where I would feel weird in my own family, as if I was a completely different species. When I was fully aware of what beauty was as a young girl, I had just turned eight or nine years old. My mother had started to compare me to the other girls in my family when we found out that two of my cousins and brother were invited to be in the wedding, where as I was just invited to witness it.
“ You see, you weren’t invited to participate because you’re fat. Nobody wants a fat girl in their wedding.”
Translating this into English sounds so much more harsh than what I remember in Spanish, but I’d like to believe that she didn’t think before saying those things to me. But as a child, to hear the person you most love in this world tell you exactly why you aren’t good enough, hurts.
In 2015 I had traveled to India and opened myself up to be vulnerable to a culture that I was unfamiliar with. Here I learned how to love every type of human being and how they were structured. Sometimes I sat and looked at peoples faces and tried to find the smallest details that other people wouldn’t take the time to appreciate. Even the smallest acts of kindness were greatly appreciated here.
“Come into my house, I will cook for you! ”
“ I have tea in the shop, come sit and talk.”
they’d be open armed for an outsider like me, and where I was from hospitality was hard to come by. One day as I traveled to the slums, I met a young beautiful Indian girl. I had complimented her appearance and she was quick to deny it and reflect the compliment to her sister. Traditionally girls from the slums are not seen to be beautiful, and they are so brainwashed by this that even the smallest compliment isn’t accepted. American and Indian beauty are not so far from each other. I had asked her why she didn’t think she was beautiful and her response was because she was dark in color while her sister was light. It broke my heart to hear such a young girl believe so whole heartedly that she wasn’t beautiful.
I have come to a point in my life where I am well aware of my need to help young girls who don’t have the emotional stability to be comforted by family or who have conformed to the idea that they are not beautiful. Society wants to keep you from feeling confident when you don’t meet its standards. I’ve come to a mirror plenty of times and said
“oh girl you are looking great today!”
and have people wonder why I have so much confidence in the body I am in, especially women of this generation. We spend more time breaking each other down instead of empowering each other to be great. We compete to be better than one another, but I’ve learned you can’t win a war if you don’t stand together