Standing in front of my mirror for 1.5 hours so that I could press my beautiful curls between a 425 degree flat iron in an effort to somewhat resemble the straight hair of my Caucasian female peers.
Leaving Disneyland after only a few short hours to go sit in the hotel and read so that my skin wouldn't get "too" dark, because my ignorant ex told me super dark girls weren't attractive (bless his soul, please).
Ooo, or my personal favorite...
Awkwardly sitting sideways in the passenger seat of the car so that the cute guy taking me on a date wouldn't be able to see my side profile. Because if he saw my side profile, he would get a good look at my nose, which I was told looked like a bird nose. I've been embarrassed by it ever since.
Wait. No. THIS is my favorite.
Letting down my entire cheer team by skipping our weekly team weight lifting AND becoming a vegetarian so that I could diminish the muscular frame that I was BLESSED with because I was told I looked too "manly".
And what did I get for all of these desperate attempts to change how I looked?
Straight hair? Yes.
Lighter brown skin? Yup.
A new nose? unfortunately no...
Muscle loss? You betchya. *along with no energy and a slower metabolism #notwinning*
But what about happiness? Did I get that? I mean, that is what we are all going for, is it not? I know It's what I'm striving for. And it's what I thought I would get by going the extra mile (or 45 miles) to painstakingly change what I looked like. Because:
Well, after years of trying to manipulate my appearance to fit this formula, I'm relieved to report that the answer is actually no... I think. But don't take my word for it. I did spent the duration of my math classes talking to boys so equations aren't my strong suit. I'm Great at flirting though. like B+ (would have said A+ but I'm still not married so apparently I have room for improvement).
ANYWAY. Back to my point.
I've spent all this time and energy to try and look like someone other than what I actually look like in effort to find happiness and to become more comfortable in my own skin. But after pridefully trying this technique for far too long, I discovered that I have become MORE uncomfortable with who I am. I've grown increasingly self-conscious. I've become excessively aware of what I look like at all times, which has also made me unhealthily aware of what those around me look like (who do I think I am?? Judge Judy??).
Now, after straightening my hair so much that I severely damaged it, turning down pool party after pool party because heaven forbid my dark skin get darker, pretending to laugh so that I could casually cover my "Kobe Bryant" nose (as one guy called it), quitting track and field because my thighs got too bulky, and living years foregoing a delicious ground beef patty to replace it with its not-nearly-as-tasty cousin--veggie patty--to deliberately atrophy my own muscle, it finally hit me like the bus that hits Regina George in Mean Girls:
Until I learn to love myself and be comfortable with my natural self, I'll be living subpar to true happiness and authenticity.
So I've decided to embrace myself by learning to love me. The real me. The curly-haired, sun-loving, dark-skinned, pointy-noised, muscular-framed, hamburger-eating me. As I fight to love this vessel that God sent me to Earth in, I'm discovering a kind of joy that I haven't felt since childhood, when happiness wasn't conflated with my image. The self-acceptance has been gradual not radical, and I still have some ground to cover, but it's happening, and I've never felt so empowered.
- This weekend I enjoyed my first hamburger in over two years. It was so good that I almost thought maybe hamburgers=all the happiness you could ever need.
- This month marks two years since I've straightened my hair! I'm loving my curls more and move every day. Even when they have a mind of their own and refuse to do anything I want them to do. Which is every day.