Clarice

I am a quiet storm. For some people rain, thunder, and lighting are frightening. For others, it’s therapeutic and soothing. I’d like to think that’s me. My beautype is not for everyone, I’m a “not for everyone” type of woman. But I am a force. I’m constant and consistent but always in flux. I used that analogy to say that what makes me beautiful is my complexity. I am comfortable in the fact that there are so many facets of myself that I don’t quite fit into any particular mold. I think it makes me well rounded, I feel less generic in a cookie cutter world. Being complex makes me feel beautiful.

I am a quiet storm. For some people rain, thunder, and lighting are frightening. For others, it’s therapeutic and soothing.

When I was younger I knew that I wasn’t “all that.” I was a skinny, brown skin girl with crooked teeth, average hair, but my personality was always rock solid. I had spunk, and I could make people laugh just by being myself. So I would strategize ways of adding to myself because I didn’t think I was “that pretty.” And I that point that was the greatest thing in the world for me personally. For me my outside had to catch up with my insides and in some instances, most women experience that opposite. I learned about sports, the stock market, cheerleading, nature, politics, history, and all of these other things that had nothing to do with my body or my face. I began to add pieces to my puzzle, and in my young mind it would compensate for the fact that I wasn’t that pretty. It would be like hey this girl isn’t cute but she’s so dope I just can’t leave her alone.

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Now, so many different things make me feel beautiful. My relationship with god makes me feel beautiful, the safety of my faith in him makes me feel beautiful. My belief in love, in its purity, in goodness, my optimism, my ability to make people laugh, but also make them think makes me feel beautiful.

I think my mom did a great job of making sure we always felt pretty. And there wasn’t one set of pretty that all 3 of us where supposed to fit in, we all had our own path. She didn’t dress us the same, or make us do all engage in the same things. She fostered our independence, she mad sure that we can each individually had our own face and our standard of beauty. And if we weren’t really sure of what to do, we could follow her lead. She would be undoubtedly feminine, tough, well put together, and exuded her own type of beauty.

There is, however, an enormous amount of pressure on both sexes to meet impossible standards of “beautiful.” I think because we’re women it is in our power to only discuss our difficulties. I think relative to females, we have the pressure we put on our selves more so than men. We are critical of our bodies, our emotions, our peers, etc. We want everything to line up with what our idea of “perfect” is for that particular point in our lives. And of course, I say that because we change, and our ideas of perfection change depending on our circumstances. Sometimes we don’t even want things for ourself, we just want a “nicer body” so guys can look at us. We want a more clear completion so that we can look like someone on Instagram. We want longer hair like a girl in our class, and it’s hard for women to invest in their own idea of beauty without it being connected to someone else or what we think someone else would like to see on us. Physical appearance can sometimes determine how people will treat you. Sometimes it determines whether they’ll go a little harder on you or require more or less from you. However a certain level of beauty makes you transparent in the eyes of some people. They limit you only to your beauty, and the first compliment they give you is not that you’re ambitious, or that your intelligent, they say you know your so pretty. What’s great about that is, “Hey, you see me!” but what’s bad about that is “Do you really see me?”

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Ironically, I feel the most beautiful when I’m in the shower. I’m not in front of any body, I’m not subjected to any criticism, it’s just me myself and my thoughts. There, I can think, I can dream, I can create. It’s my safe haven. This was probably one of the toughest years in my life, and there was about 3 months that I was battling depression. I didn’t take pictures of myself for months. I felt ugly inside and out EVERY SINGLE DAY. But I’d sit in the shower every night and deconstruct my day, my life, my body, my thoughts and that was the only time and place I felt like I wasn’t depressed. It was the only time I felt myself. It’s my truth. I even used Beyoncé to make me stronger. I listened to her song “All night long” in the shower every night for about a month and half. Something about the optimism in those lyrics mixed with hot water running down my body shifted me.

I have a bare face 6 days out of the week. The only time I wear make-up is when I’m going out or going to church. I’ve made it a point to be comfortable in my own skin, and I mean that literally. I love getting made up and doing a bit of transforming as it relates to my looks, but I love even more just feeling like I can relax and still consider myself beautiful without done-up eyebrows, and foundation, and eyelashes etc. What bothers me is my natural hair. I went natural like 5 years ago and ever since then it’s been a struggle dealing with my hair to the point that I don’t even wear it out because I don’t feel like doing it or seeing it. I use weave as a means of making my life easier. Should I let my hair out, of course I should. I start taking care of it for a while then, I stop, but ultimately it’s apart of me. So, it’s an aspect I am working on loving and putting more effort into .

Everything affects your perception of beauty. Magazines, friends, family, celebrities, your neighbors all of the above has a hand in what you think is beautiful. What causes us to think things are beautiful is how it affects us or how it affects other people. It’s like when your man says “baby I like your hair curly,” you could hate that curly hair but it’s something about the affect it has on him that while drive you to think it’s the shit. It’s a developed skill to find something beautiful just because you like or love it rather than what other people say about it. That’s not necessarily a skill everyone has, especially when social media essentially tells you what is or isn’t beautiful (as per their standards).

It sounds odd, I know but I feel that society in general is critical now more than ever of beauty and beauty standards. When I was in grammar school, I didn’t feel pressure to live up to anything that I saw on Disney because I would think  “Lizzie McGuire” is cute but can’t get Ethan to notice her and that was normal. I thought you know these shows that I’m seeing were all about discovering yourself and accepting your awkward place. We didn’t have the added pressure of social media that says your awkward phase isn’t supposed to happen. I honestly feel that the older I’ve gotten, I’ve second-guessed myself more than when I was young. I didn’t have any cyber competition when I was young. I didn’t have to look like anyone but myself. Now, no matter how confident you are, it doesn’t help that there exists an audience of memes for the sole purpose of discouraging you, or pictures of 17 year olds who look more put together than my 24 years old self. Believe me it’ll add pressure in ways some people can’t imagine.

What I believe makes a person beautiful is their undeniable willingness to be themselves first, and then to second, love them selves.

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What I believe makes a person beautiful is their undeniable willingness to be themselves first, and then to second, love them selves. Taking care of yourself emotionally and physically is the most beautiful thing in this world. Being ugly is something everyone is at times. We all have ugly moments in our lives that are both necessary and unnecessary. What makes a person ugly is that choice to sit in their ugliness. Deciding to sit in negativity, to be rude, or dismissive, to be stagnant, and all those things that are the opposition of progression, positivity, and light.

People hurt my feelings all the time when they make mention of my body and me being slender. They don’t do it in a complimentary way, they say it in a very cavalier way as if it’s okay to insult someone based on something they have no control over. I’ve never starved myself, but I’ve been called anorexic so many times in my life. I eat so much and yet I’ve been told I don’t eat enough.  I would reassure myself that I’m still breathing and I have flesh wrapped around my body, but I remained a “bag of bones.” Over the years I have sometimes internalized those words. It’s affected how I see, myself. When I put on a skirt, all I can think about is how much better I’d look if I were thicker. It’s like I could have a day when I feel so confident about myself, my body, and aesthetic and someone will say “You’re so skinny!” and it’ll rub me the wrong way. “You probably wear a size 0.” That affects how you see yourself, and what you think of beauty. People I’m sure mean nothing by it but I always think how many other little girls feel like I do at one point or another. That probably hurts more because if you don’t have someone in your life that can identify or see that silent struggle and help you deal with that you turn into an adult that holds on to it.  For me my collar bones always remind me about how skinny I am. It’s the one bone that I can actually see, and it just makes me feel like I’m not big enough.

My lips used to be an insecurity of mine. I had an instance where I was standing this boy I had gotten to know when I was younger, I was probably 13 and said to me “do you smoke?” Of course at this time I wasn’t doing any drugs I couldn’t understand what he meant. He said, “your lips are mad dark.” That same later said to me “you have DSL’s.” Being a bit of a naive church girl, I asked him what that meant and he said, “dick sucking lips, cause they mad big.” It affected me negatively. I was a competition cheerleader for 6 years. My coach, Charlene, tough as nails, taught me to love my lips. I’ll never forget we started wearing a little more makeup and one practice we were trying on red lipstick, and I distinctly remember thinking at this time I wouldn’t look as good as the other girls. I said out loud, to all of my peers, “My lips are too big for this” and “I hate how big they look.” My coach looked me right in my eyes very seriously and said, “Are you kidding me? There are people in this world that wish they had lips like you, paying money to look like you. Shit I wish my lips were like that! Don’t think that way about yourself. ” She made a little black girl proud of her full lips. Thanks Char I’ll love you eternally for that!

I see myself as a gardener, constantly planting and sowing seeds.

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I see myself as a gardener, constantly planting and sowing seeds. I look to sow seeds with everyone I meet, so that something amazing will come from what I’ve imparted in their lives and what they impart in mine. Even if it isn’t outstanding, I’ve at least been apart of your journey. My sister, my cousin, and myself have a organization called “Behold my Beauty,” that looks to help others see the beauty in themselves and their communities no matter who they are, where they live, their circumstances etc. Thank god our work isn’t just relative to women but people in general. It’s helping others see the beauty in an ugly situation; it’s pointing them in a different direction. I’ve always been apart of the process of helping others evolve into better people, because helping others ultimately helps me! I find that working with young women, it is very difficult to create a relationship that’s meaningful without being relatable. If they cannot identify with you in someway, then it’s just another voice. Don’t just talk to these young girls and give them generic advice. Tell them about a moment you felt stupid, or when you had a less than stellar moment. When I was young all I wanted was someone who could say, “Hey, I made that mistake too.”

 

1 Comment

  1. Connie

    Wow you truly touched me. You have inspired me by this 💞💞💞💞

    Like

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