My mother would say, “You look prettier with your hair down,” and, “keep it because it makes you beautiful.” So, I cut it because it didn’t make me feel beautiful. All my life, I heard, “You have to do this to be pretty.” I would think, “but this is me though.” So I made changes. I started doing things that made me feel beautiful and people that didn’t like it were dropped out of my life.
I used to cut myself. I was in the 6th grade and my mom just started to bring me to the doctor, or a psychiatrist, but I was really stubborn when she did. I didn’t want to be there, I hated myself. I hated everything about me; my face, my body, my persona. Family members would attempt to say things discreetly like, “You shouldn’t wear stuff like that,” or, “ That’s not for you, I like this better on you.” It became about everyone telling me who I was and what it was that I was supposed to wear and be. They would say, “This is you,” but it was not me at all. Their words, and these things that were forced on me became like rocks sitting on me.
I experienced a lot of instances were I was being bullied by adults and younger kids alike. One girl that used to bully me all the time targeted me for my weight, my hair, and my eyes. She would target every single feature. She would say, “your lips are too big, your eyes are too small, your hair is fake.” Like, what? I’m six! My hair was always curly or braided. My mom would never let me wear weave.My bully would tell me, “You’re trying to pretend to be white, you’re not white.” I’d ask my mom everyday, “Mom what am I ?” and we spoke about what my nationality is. She said your grandmother has blue eyes and freckles, but I looked nothing like her. My family was very diverse and multiculdturaled. While everyone was trying to fit me into something I wasn’t, my mother wanted me to live freely.
My family is very wild hearted, and if you want it, go get it. My mother always told me to go do crazy things. If it’s raining, “Lets go out and race, and if I get back before you do, you have to cook.” She would raise the stakes so we would have more fun. My father wouldn’t always be around, so I would be with my mom most of the time. My sister and her would make up little games to make us feel like we were the center of attention. She would fill a vase with m&ms and you had to pick out colors and say reasons you loved yourself, have spa days at home, go out and buy funky masks to do all these different scrubs. We would make marmalade put it on our faces, stay home, and be cozy together. We would dress up and go to random stores, try clothes on that was too big for us and put on fashion shows. Her rule was to live in the moment and do things that made you happy. I enjoyed our time together.
If you were to ask me if I think that outside influences are still defining the parameters of my idea of beauty and comfort, a couple months ago I would have said yes, but I’ve grown tougher skin.
I feel beautiful when I’m comfortable. Sometimes I like to be alone, no actually – majority of the time I like to be alone. I like good company. I like good vibes, but I’m not that open. I used to hate myself. It was during my sophomore year in high school, I started to love myself more. I got this tattoo and it helped me a lot. I was in such a depressed state before then that I couldn’t care about anything. I barely spoke to my parents, barely hung out with people. I was mean to everyone not happy with myself, not good at all and because of this I would write in a journal all the time.
My tattoo means that I refuse to sink. When I decided to get my tattoo my mother said, “If you can’t give me a five paragraph essay as to why you want this tattoo, you’re not getting it.” In the end, she told me, “I think this is good for you. I understand the meaning.” I cried after I got it done. I was starting to be myself. I wasn’t trying to be or live for anyone else. It was strange though, I saw my mom bleed from every tattoo she ever got, but I never bled. It showed me that for some things, I had tougher skin.
It wasn’t until certain events transpired that I came to truly see that, sometimes I had to be strong for her.
For a long time, it was my sister, my mother and I. Then, she got into a relationship with a man that for some reason, I did not trust. One day, I came home from school, and it seemed like a normal day. I heard my mother leave with him for her afternoon class and a little while later, my aunt called me frantic. She told me the cops are on their way and urged me to tell her if we were okay.
He hit my her. When the man I did not trust put hands on my mother, it validated every thought I had about him. But those are things you do not say to your mother after she’s been slapped into a closet. When she came back home I saw the bruise she had on her winter pale skin. I asked over and over what happened. She didn’t tell me anything. How could I give the cops answers, if I knew nothing. I lost respect for her. Imagine someone empowering you, saying, “Be all that you are. Don’t let anyone hurt you. Don’t be silent about things.” And then, for her to be silent to you about everything that happened. After that I was brutal to my mom. It disturbed me that she would later walk out of our house with the man that hurt her and to then get back with him and gave birth to his son, my brother.
I hate the dentist, now. The first time she let me go to the dentist by myself, my cousin calls me yelling, “Hurry, he hit your mom you have to go get them. He stabbed your mom.” I remember perfectly. I was 55 blocks away with no transportation. I called the two people that said to call them and they’ll be there, but they couldn’t be there. When I finally arrived, my little brother said, “My dad stabbed mommy.” You’re four why are you telling me this. My sisters and I were crying as my youngest siblings described the way he stabbed my mother in her arm. When I hugged my mother, all I smelled was Victoria’s Secret Love Spell, and to this day, I hate it. My little sister described the situation, he threw her on the bed and spilled all the perfume out on to it and on top of her. After that, we were put under witness protection in shelters until he could be apprehended. We met children with even worse circumstances in the shelter. I couldn’t sleep and I would hear my mom weeping in the middle of the night. I cried too but I tried not to let her hear me. It hurt so badly. They eventually caught him, convicted him, and we were able to go home. There was a point in my life, that I felt I couldn’t trust anything anyone said. My mother became, in my eyes a hypocrite for a lot of things, but when she accepted me for who I was, I realized she meant everything she said. She made me make my happiness a priority.
You are not defined by your situation, but what you have the potential to be.
I can’t stand people who try to belittle children and women in general. We need to stand together. We allow others to walk over us so much that they try to belittle feminism. I think there is more pressure on women for so many things in this life. Society has this idea for what a woman should look, dress, and behave like. It’s literally bull shit. We’re all individuals. There’s no two women that are the same, even if you’re identical twins. There’s always going to be that thing that you stand up for, that another won’t.
They say, “Well you should have feminists,” and all this other stuff but honestly, who is going to protect us, if we’re not protecting ourselves.The more you wanna fight for something, the more you have a purpose toward it, but I feel like men try to overpower a lot of the things women begin. Not to say that all of men aren’t trying to help women. But there aren’t many women willing to stand up and defend their situation. You have to start somewhere. Even if you speak to the smallest person. Little people do have big words, big voices. You are not defined by your situation, but what you have the potential to be.