How I Learned to Love the Way I Look
While I have always been pretty comfortable with who I was, I was not always comfortable with how I looked. Like many teenagers, I did not exit the awkward years of adolescence unscathed. While I always thought I had a pretty face (I have my mother to thank for that) I hated pretty much everything else about my body. My breast never grew like those of my friends; all I was gifted with was thighs that looked like small tree trunks (to me anyway).
Try as they might, my friends' and families' insistence that I was just "thick" only made me feel fat. Maybe this wouldn't have been an issue had I not also been vertically challenged. Unfortunately I was blessed with Serena Williams thighs (awesome) but not her height (she's 5'9; I'm barely 5'4).
Image: © Fotosports International/Action Press/ZUMAPRESS.com
I hated my body. And not just a mild "I wish I could change this" or "I'm going to do this" to improve myself. I mean, I hated my body. I hated my breast size to the point that I once started a boob fund for my breast implants. (Throw some D's on that ish!) I was also bulimic. I binged and purged for 10 years. (Yes, black girls suffer from it too!) I went to numerous clinics and specialists. The only cure for my eating disorder was giving birth and wanting to be healthy for my son. I was so self-conscious of my thighs that I exercised myself down to a size 0. I actually dated a guy that told me once after sex that he wasn't sexually attracted to me because my thighs touched. (And I thought I was the one with the issues.) I invested in water bras (yes, I said it) because should I get felt up on a date, I didn't want him to know I was stuffed. In the summer I wore body makeup (Dermablend) to cover my stretch marks on my stomach. In short, I was a MESS.
How did I get past that? Slowly. I dated a guy who one day pointed out to me that when we 'd have sex, I'd turn off the lights, jump into bed, and disrobe under the covers. I didn't want to be seen. I had never even walked around a man completely nude. One day he just stopped me. And here is where I have my Love Jones meets Love and Basketball meets Brown Sugar moment. He said , "I don't know what was wrong with that guy you used to date, but I love your body. I want to see you. Leave the lights on and take your clothes off". #swoon
Now, don't get it twisted. His part was Hollywood big screen worthy. Mine, however, was not. I did it. I disrobed with the lights on, albeit as quickly as humanly possible. Partially because I was horny and that was the only way I was gonna get lucky. The other part was because I just wanted to please him (FORMER people pleaser, guilty as charged). Over time, though, I started to do things like stand in the mirror naked, and not make the mad dash I used to do to the towel rack. I mean, full frontal assault.
At first, I only did it for a couple seconds. Seeing my body naked was honestly overwhelming. It wasn't the body I wanted. It was disappointing. But eventually those seconds standing naked in the mirror turned to minutes. And the disappointment turned to admiration. One day I realized I would get out the shower and comb my hair and put on makeup NAKED without even realizing it. I began to admire my tiger stripes (aka stretch marks). Even my boobs began to get celebrated. (You nursed a kid with those things! Someone give this lady an award.)
Last night I posted the below picture on Facebook. I had just taken out the braids from my sew in and finger combed my beautiful CURLS (notice I did not say naps because I do not disparage any part of me). Immediately a great friend texted me and said, " You are so comfortable in your skin. I love that about you buckwheat. LOL. 99% of women would have never posted that. You are super dope".
Image: Kimmah Shah
He was partially right. Some women are brave enough to post themselves au natural. I see it on Youtube a lot. BUT a LOT of women are not brave enough to show themselves "undone". This applies to you too, men. We all seem to be too afraid to be seen in our most vulnerable state. For women it may be our body and our hair. For men it may be their EMOTIONS (cough, cough), financial status, or the car you drive (or buying Magnum condoms when you know damn well you do not need them *stare*).
In the words of Sweet Brown: AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT. I have spent too much time on this planet partially celebrating myself. I do not intend to do it another day. Because I've learned that if I don't celebrate me, neither will anyone else. That is one nasty habit I gave up. I gave myself permission to love and embrace me as I am. With or without my weave. With or without my makeup. With or without my dream job. With or without my dream guy.
I am emotional, passionate, creative, loving, sexual, empathetic, forgetful, forgiving and unforgiving, clumsy, moody and sometimes bat shit crazy. What I don't like I don't tear down anymore. I just work to improve myself. I gave myself permission to love me. Not part of me. ALL OF ME. In all of my flawed splendor. It is my sincere hope that you can do the same.
With love and acceptance,
The Mistress of ALL Things Fabulous
Image: Kimmah Shah