Since I was a little girl, I have always heard compliments about my beauty. It is typically one of the first things an adult would say to me, and honestly, I believed it. I would look in the mirror and see a beautiful face staring back at me. But my peers felt differently. In school, I was teased and picked on about everything. I didn’t understand how all these adults could see my beauty, but none of my peers could. So, I began to tell myself a story.
I would say that my peers didn't see my beauty because I was fat, my hair was too short, or my clothes were too bummy. I would tell myself that story so much that, over time, I started to believe it. Whenever a boy (or girl) would mistreat me, I thought I deserved it because I wasn't pretty enough. Then one summer, I discovered cheerleading. It was as though my body was cut in half. Suddenly, I was getting attention from all the boys in the neighborhood. I loved the attention, but to my dismay, life didn’t magically get better. Because deep down, there was still a little fat black girl in my head.
I dealt with her all through high school and even in college. It wasn’t until I decided to go natural that I confronted her. See, in high school, I was allowed to start wearing weaves. I wore them like a second skin. It got to the point where I didn't feel beautiful without them. Then my hair started thinning, and I finally had to let it go. Thankfully, I was mentoring then! Being around young black girls who wore their hair natural made me question why I was holding on to weaves so much. These young girls were so beautiful and free. I wanted that for myself. So, I did the big chop.
When I first did it, it was hard to even look at myself in the mirror, but slowly over time, I began to feel different about myself. I would look in the mirror and love the woman smiling back at me! It got to the point that I didn’t even want to wear weaves anymore. But I never felt that way about my body until March 2018. Then everything changed. I’ve already told you about the fatal incident and how it led to my love for yoga. Which led to my love for my body on and off the yoga mat. Yoga has helped me appreciate my body more because no matter the size, my body has always had great flexibility. The other day, I was teaching a class, and I caught a glimpse of myself standing on one leg in airplane pose as I instructed my students to do the same. I couldn't help but think, who have I become?
Lately, I’ve been finding myself amazed at my strength. I am in awe at what my body can do! I'm no longer ashamed of that scar permanently zipping down my belly. I actually find myself flaunting it! Because it's proof that life tried to take me out, and I won! At the age of thirty-four, I'm finally comfortable in my body. That comfortability translated into confidence, and the more my confidence grew, the more I began to trust myself. The more I trusted myself, the easier it was to love myself. The other day, I listened to a Sista’s Who Kill episode about a woman who died from plastic surgery. It was clear that her low self-esteem got her there, and I couldn't help but think I could have easily been her. I thank God everyday, that I went the other way.
Now I look at my body, my curves, my shape, and I see the evidence of my womanhood. I see it as a blessing. I only get this one body, and I will do right by it! I've been conditioned to perform and compare myself to others. But life is not about the opinions of others. Life is created by the view you have of yourself. People come into our lives based on what we believe is possible. When you think about it, everything about life is based on self-esteem and belief in oneself. Because your reality is created by your thoughts, not others, so, it would make sense why in the past, I was in all these shitty, one-sided relationships. Thank God that has changed. Now that little fat black girl no longer has a place in my head.
The proof of my internal shift manifested externally while traveling to Cartagena. While on a boat, I met a woman who was a famous influencer. She was beautiful, yet she kept complimenting me! I don't know if this makes me vain, but it's something about having a model tell you that you are beautiful that makes you genuinely believe it! The woman was sweet and even personally invited me into a threesome, which was honestly very flattering. I would have been down if it weren't for Aunt Flo and a nasty hangover! But the love didn’t stop there! Next, a man with the best, most glowing coca skin told me I was the most beautiful woman on the beach.
If I were thinking correctly, I would have gotten his What's App. After that trip, it dawned on me that I am not only a beautiful woman on the inside but on the outside as well. It dawned on me that I never deserved the mistreatment I received in the past. In Cartagena, I was around some of the most beautiful women with equally impressive bodies. But I learned that life is so much more than your beauty. See, in Cartagena, prostitution is not something that is frowned upon. It’s something that most women do to earn a living. But they also weren’t the sharpest tools in the drawer. Being there made me question how much value I put on physical looks.
After a few days, I saw that beauty is nothing but a shell. Beauty doesn’t make you a person. That night I talked to the influencer for hours. She told me all about how she used men to build her business and how she took pride in being able to provide an extravagant birthday weekend for herself. She made it clear that she looked down on women who were only in it for the money. Looking back at it, I can see that she wanted me to know she was more than what she did for a living, and by the end of the conversation, I agreed. I respected her hustle and even felt like we had a lot in common. I admired the way that she was able to value herself and her time.
Talking to her made me realize that when you see yourself as worthy, you carry yourself that way. She taught me a thing or two about knowing your worth. Being around her made me realize that beautiful people wanted to be seen for more than just their beauty. As Americans (or maybe it's the world), we put so much weight on beauty. When it truly means nothing. Being surrounded by those women in Cartagena made me feel pride for what I can offer. It made me see I wanted to be viewed for more than just my looks and how fuckable a man deems me to be!
What really matters is what’s on the inside. That trip taught me that I value intellect and the ability to communicate way more than looks. When I got home, I felt a shift in how I moved in my body and the world. It was as though my soul and body were finally in sync. Suddenly I wasn’t afraid to take up space. Every day, I wake up amazed at the woman I am becoming. Now I tell myself stories about my beauty and my amazing body! When I get compliments, I don’t brush them off. I accept it. The compliments are just residue of the inner work.
True beauty is a reflection from the inside and
my soul is one beautiful muthafucka!
What are the stories you told yourself as a child?
Reflecting on your life now, are you still telling that story?
Are you ready to release that story?