Wednesday, May 8, 2013

... This Makes You Beautiful...

When I was in junior high there was this girl that I’ll call Maureen.

Maureen was a nice girl if you knew her but not very friendly if you didn’t. I thought she was pretty because she was my friend and I liked her but I would venture to say that other people probably found her at least stereotypically pretty: light skin, light eyes, long hair that was super thick and kind of wavy and just the color brown I always wanted for my own hair (I hated having jet black hair back then.) She wore it in one long braid every single day. Until one day she came to school with a halfway cute bob.

And a black eye.

And a few other cuts and bruises.

The rumor was some girls had caught up with her one day after school and … expressed their extreme dislike for her. We had a discussion about it in one of my classes. My teacher was disgusted and adamant that this sort of behavior was not okay. That jealousy was an ugly trait that made people do ugly things, and how dare those girls attack her like that just because she was pretty.

I remember rolling my eyes, turning my head and trying to read with a book discreetly.

What that teacher did not know was that as much I personally liked Maureen, she had a serious mean streak. And she had no problems with calling people “black and ugly.”

I remember being at her house more than once when her parents suggested almost all girls were always jealous of her for being so pretty. It’s why they liked me, because I didn’t seem to mind much. (it would be some years before I would figure out that that was somewhat of an insult.)

Her mom would go on and on about all the troubles she had growing up beautiful and her daughter was doomed to suffer the same.

It was no wonder that anytime anyone said anything to offend Maureen, she would immediately jump to the pretty defense and call them jealous. Then she’d flip her pony tail and walk away.

Finally one day, no more pony tail to flip.

I told her once, “people can’t be jealous of you because you think you look good. They can only be jealous of you if they think you look good and it bothers them.”

“I am and it does.” She replied. (and now you know why I chose the name Maureen. If you don’t, go read “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison)

Her reason for believing she was so attractive was because everyone told her she was. Boys always tried to talk to her and give her stuff. Girls always hated her and picked on her.

I guess personality had nothing to do with it.

So much of what we think is tempered by what we see and what we’re told to think. As a result, we tend to make things visual even when they aren’t.

Every article or beauty tip tells you how to look taller, longer, leaner as if looking like anything else is unacceptable. It’s not just the fashion magazines, even the various fitness magazines look like they keep using the same body with a different head on it. Is there no other body type you can have and still be considered fit?

It happens with men, too.

I stayed up late trying to finish the Spartacus: Blood and Sand series before it was due back to the library. It’s a little cartoonish and the blood looks like fruit juice, but the story line was good and the character development was magnificent! I can’t wait to see the rest of it.

The show has lots of topless women via slave girls, raunchy fight spectators, and Lucy Lawless always but the men, oh man, the men!

So many naked, full frontal, oiled up, hairless, muscular gladiators, you would have thought a disco exploded. They spend the whole series, in loin cloths, occasional armor or nothing at all. And you could tell the good guys from the bad guys based on body type: good guys = chiseled, bad guys = not chiseled. Oh, and the bad guys usually had a face like an ogre, too.

We have to remember what were are seeing is limited, and if it’s limited it’s wrong.

Cosmetic ads always end their color spectrum with “olive or dark” because I guess everyone brown goes there.

And don’t get me started on those jeans or bikini body type articles. Everyone is either tall and shapeless (often times referred to as athletic), top heavy, and a final category or two that includes everyone else as in “wider hips” or “curvy” or whatever. Suppose you’re short and athletic? Or what if you’re just fat?

There isn’t enough information out there that emphasizes how to just be your best you.

There isn’t enough information out there that emphasizes how beauty means different things to different people.

And there definitely isn’t enough information out there to tell you that your best you has very little to do with how beauty is defined.

So for the very nice young girl in the store who really, really wanted me to know that she’s “mixed with three races” so her hair “just lays down. I can’t get it to fluff up like yours because you know, the race thing,” I would say, don’t be an idiot.

First of all, I’m very grown, black and female, I know a relaxer when I see one, as I know a tex-lax, as I know chemically damaged hair. She had two of three.

We say silly things when it comes to how we want to be perceived.

I can’t remember which one said which but one was Britney Spears and the other was Jennifer Lopez. One says she hates her elbows and the other doesn’t like her ankles.

The question was what would you change about yourself.

I suppose that’s what you say when you don’t have anything negative to say about yourself, but the first thing that comes to your mind when someone asks you about yourself is what you think you look like.

Anyway, this is getting weird. Not as weird as people getting surgery instead of exercising to have arms like FLOTUS Michelle Obama or girls thinking thigh gap is hot – which is hilarious because as you well know by now, my mom will tell you if light shines between your legs, it’s a sign of sickness. Your legs are supposed to touch. She’s right, you look ridiculous. Or like all the cowboys in old cartoons—but off topic weird.

My point in all this was just another reminder, because we can’t ever get too many as best as I can tell, that the “you” that lives in the heart of you, is the most amazing and beautiful you there is.

Be true to it, share it, and be beautiful.

Tao of Groove – Brand New Delhi

You could imagine our surprise to see the face behind this song.

Natural Selection – Do Anything

Sinbad making another cameo in a Tony!  Toni! Tone! video  – Born Not to Know

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