Janine

There is a quote I’ve always loved by R.H. Sin, it says, “Give a woman pain and she ‘ll turn it into power. Give that woman chaos and she ‘ll create peace.” When I think about what makes me feel beautiful I think of this quote. My, and all women’s abilities to love again are what make us beautiful. Women have this power to be consistently hurt over and over again, dust themselves off, heal, forgive, and love again. That power is taken for granted. Regardless of what I’ve been through, I still manage to have a very good heart. I continue to see beauty in people, in things, and myself. After experiencing some of the things I’ve been through, there are people who become very bitter and negative. They become void of emotion and selfish. They make everything about them. They want to protect themselves, and I understand that. We’re in a society in which people feel like everyone’s going to play them. They feel a need to protect themselves and their inner peace. I am all for protecting your peace, but I don’t support giving up, or protecting yourself so much that you seal yourself off from feeling anything at all.

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There is a quote I’ve always loved by R.H. Sin, it says, “Give a woman pain and she ‘ll turn it into power. Give that woman chaos and she ‘ll create peace.”

As time goes on, I’m starting to love myself for the flaws I didn’t like as a kid. My hair, my freckles and my face. I hated those aspects of myself. It took a while for me to accept the physical beauty of my body. I was exposed to a lot of negativity concerning my body image. It took a lot of time to accept this also, but I’ve grown to love my ability to adopt certain mindsets. It helps me to be more understanding, it helps me pay attention. So many people are absorbed in themselves, self-interested. Everyone wants to be heard but no one wants to listen.

I feel like we just have to be there for one another, women especially. We don’t support our women enough. I feel that it’s the biggest downfall for women. Men and the Internet demean us enough, and being against one another gives the world a better excuse to tear us apart. When women tear other women down, it gives men the okay to call women what they wish. If we come together, we make the statement that we are not accepting. We have to lead by example. We need to lead our youth. We’re selfish as a society, yes, but it all starts at home. One thing, with my younger sister, I always told her to remember her worth. You just have to tell them, “Listen. You’re going to be beautiful regardless. You’re a queen.” From when we’re young, women have to work ten times harder to get something a man has. You can be overqualified, and you won’t get it because you’re a woman. I have been working on learning to be a DJ. There are not enough women DJs, so I will become one. I want all women staff and all female projects. I want to vibe with and collaborate with women.

When I was growing up people told me I’d be a “dike” by this age.  I grew up downtown and hung out with my boy cousins, mainly because there weren’t a lot of girls for me to spend time with. I wore oversized hand-me-downs. I rode bikes, played and got dirty. My family is very traditional. I feel like beauty in my household was very physical. When it came to picture day, we went to the Dominican dubi spot to do my hair and they always cut and blow-dried my hair, tucked me into iron pressed skirts with stockings, and very ladylike shoes. We had to be presentable to the public, perfect and easy on the eye. If so much as a hair was out of place, I was a mess. Vanity. I conformed to my family’s idea of beauty, but that idea made me rebellious. Their idea of beauty wasn’t organic. All throughout middle school I had to force it, but I wanted to make people like me. Their idea of beauty wasn’t organic. All throughout middle school I had to force it, but I wanted to make people like me. In high school was when I began to embrace myself and my style, because I realized the only person who is going to live in the body I’m in is me. They wanted us to wear knee length skirts and dresses, but I started to wear whatever I wanted. Every time I spend time with family I change it up. Natural hair, tattoos, and always carrying a camera around, I am the black sheep hipster that listens to old music on vinyl. My family, though tradition did let me express myself.

My tattoos were spontaneous but meaningful for me. My first tattoo, I got it 2 years ago. It serves as a constant reminder from a quote to stand tall and face the sun. It’s in Latin because Latin is the root of the English language. Sunflowers are my favorite and when the sun is out they turn and face the sun. It reminded me when I felt like I was losing it, that I should just face the sun and take all that goodness in. My other tattoos are representative of my roots in the Caribbean. On one arm, it’s my father’s side, a Jamaican island girl, and on the other, my mother’s side, a Puerto Rican Taíno Indian. I grew up in a Puerto Rican household, and I didn’t embrace the blackness in me until recently. I am Afro-Latina, and I’m embracing those aspects of myself now by carrying my culture on my sleeve.

Media affected my view on beauty growing up. Television, music videos, etc. And growing up in a traditional family that valued modesty, I went through so many stages caught between the two. I went through a girly stage and then I adopted a comfortable and lazy aesthetic, accepting my cozy girl identity. At first, to my family they thought it was rebellion. But, since we didn’t have a lot of money to go shopping, our budget forced me to dress with thrifted bright patterns and vintage styles. I went through every style before I found the one that represents who I am. Thrifting was a big part of me finding myself.

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There has to be more to the idea of beauty, and I should be apart of that change. A lot of times we don’t push, we just accept. I want to push everyone to accept the beauty from within.

There are moments for me when I’m getting ready, when I am in my process of self-care that I feel so beautiful. If I have the time, if I’m not rushing out of my house, I could wake up and smoke. It puts me in a very good mellowed out mood. I’ll play mellow or soulful music, like Frank Ocean or Erykah Badu. I’ll take a long meditative shower. It’s when I am exfoliating and taking care of the things we normally take advantage of, when I’m doing a deep mask in my hair, or a natural facemask, that I feel beautiful. Music has always been part of my regimen for self-care, it affects me more than most people would think. I’ll wrap myself in a silk robe after putting coconut oil on. I take forever because I don’t time my self-care when I am in my love myself space. We’re not guaranteed a full head of hair for the rest of our lives, or great skin, but in that moment that I’m taking care of it, that’s when I feel most beautiful. I think people look to others, and they plead, “I wish I had a big butt. I wish I had big boobs.” I just feel beautiful and at peace since becoming comfortable with the body I’m in, but what helped was taking care of that body. Looking for beauty in you, not others, feeds your peace.

Its crazy, the idea of beauty is changing now, and it shows to what extent people of color have been undermined and put on the back burner. Before, it was light skin, straight hair, tall, skinny, and an unrealistic bone structure. Children got affected by eating disorders. Kids looked up to stuff like that. The media didn’t tell you to embrace your body and love yourself. My generation or age group, rather came, and we’re progressing but we’re still not there.

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Its crazy, the idea of beauty is changing now, and it shows to what extent people of color have been undermined and put on the back burner.

I always had to question, “Who said THAT is the idea of beauty? How do THEY choose the face on the cover of every magazine?” My question has since become, “Why can’t I be the face of beauty on the cover of that magazine?” There has to be more to the idea of beauty, and I should be apart of that change. A lot of times we don’t push, we just accept. I want to push everyone to accept the beauty from within.

I used to hate putting on makeup on. It was the worst thing ever. My mom was huge on it and said it would make me feel beautiful. But wearing makeup was just a part of me. Some days, I just want a beat face to be beautiful, but I know now that a clean face is just what I prefer. I only wear makeup sometimes. I look up to Alicia keys for abandoning makeup in her line of work. I’m aware as an adult that it isn’t just about wearing makeup to hid imperfection but skin care too. Some people are afraid of the term barefaced because they know they have to be vulnerable to the public. It’s something within them that doesn’t let them believe they’re beautiful that way. I look in the mirror a lot. It’s a habit I picked up when I first went into the theater program. There was a lot of exercise in front of the mirror. Whenever I’m talking to people, I end up catching myself talking into my reflection. I’m fascinated by the fact that I can’t see my face, what the third person sees. So, when you are allowed to see your face, you should take that in the beauty that other people see. Like, “Wow this is me!”

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