The Evolution Begins: Crawl Before You Walk

Part One of this series is here.

My mother got engaged and married before I finished my freshman year. We were moving to Miami that summer, a world away from my home state of Louisiana.

Before we moved, my stepfather (“Pops” hereafter) got me a pair of beautiful black heels for my 15th birthday.

He got me a name plate necklace and bracelet too, because I saw his and thought it was so pretty.

But those heels? Oh, oh, my. High heeled, open toed, and the heels had these swirly embellishments on them. Now, Pops was well aware that I didn’t do dressy clothes often outside of church, but he figured that was where I’d wear them.

Nope.

Wore them to school with a pair of hip huggers I’d gotten for Christmas that year. The jeans had swirly black embellishments to go with the design on the shoe, and I had a nice black top to put with it.

Walking into the gym that morning, I heard a couple of whispers. I realized folks didn’t quite know what to say to me. I’d gone from demi-feminine to ultra-feminine in one day, and now I fit in. Kinda. Or maybe it was that I not only looked more like everyone else, but that I was even capable of pulling it off. It wasn’t a complete switch. I incorporated it into my “tomboy glam” repertoire: some days sweats, some days heels, and every day, at least to me, I felt I looked great. Until…

I started getting the backhanded compliments: “Wow, your outfit is so cute! You really aren’t a boy!” The ultimate one? “You can really dress. If you lost some weight, you would be perfect!” And although it hurt me, I didn’t drop the new look.

Yet all I could think was: really!? I don’t win here, do I? Of course I didn’t. But I was still too young to get that it wasn’t a matter of impressing everyone else, it was a matter of embracing myself as I was. Of course, I dieted and wanted to be pretty (cause you can’t be fat and pretty, don’tcha know), but I never really got that there is so much more to beauty than the outside. Your outfit is only a part of you, and it isn’t even the important part.

It took me changing states to change my perspective…

To Be Continued.

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Stories

The Evolution Begins

I had blending in down to an art. I was the smart kid, pretty quiet but caustic when pushed too hard.

I was remembered before the big exam and forgotten shortly thereafter.

In middle school, I wore a uniform, and on rare occasions we were allowed to wear dressy clothes to school.

I was reminded, with an accompanying eye roll, that “dressing up” did not equal pants. I wasn’t really a dress or skirt kind of girl, outside of church. But, I complied, if only to fit in for a day.

First day of high school, I was proud of myself. I’d had a babysitting job all summer, and I could buy all of the clothes I wanted. My big purchase was a pair of Nikes. They looked like they had swirls all over them in a gradated blue that made me immensely happy.

I bought matching sweats and tees to wear with these sneakers, along with earrings and nail polish. Not totally tomboy, not totally girlie.

I loved it. Naturally, the first day of school I set off a bit of confusion for my classmates. “Why is she dressed like a boy?” “But if she’s trying to dress like a boy, why is she wearing earrings and nail polish?”

It was confusing for them, but not for me. I liked my style. I stood out a bit, but I was okay with it. I felt foxy. I could be fierce in my sweats and sneakers, honey! Couldn’t tell me nothing.

At least, that’s how I looked on the outside. I tried to keep my head high when the kids sneered at me. At my attitude, my supposed confidence. Daring to be happy.

And when I got “unruly”, you know, thinking I had some rights to live happily, I was reminded: “Yeah, you can dress, but you’re still fat.” “Don’t smile. Your teeth look a mess.” “Why you got so many bumps on your face?”

I did my best to keep my head high. My mother was a constant support, but it’s hard to hear a lone cheer amid a chorus of negativity.

And then, something happened to change my mindset…

To be continued.

Stories Uncategorized

Selfie Revelation

I have never really been one for pictures. I rarely smile in the ones I took when I was younger (baby/toddler/elementary school pictures excluded). In fact, for my senior pictures, I did smile in some, and everyone requested my serious pose. That’s how they knew me, my friends said, and that’s how they wanted to remember me.

As I got older, and less secure in who I was (and am), I hated pictures more. They’re for beautiful people. They’re for skinny people. They’re for folks with perfect skin. All I got going for me is smarts, but I can never be pretty. I can never be attractive. I can never be wanted.

I belong in the background. Not center stage.

Even now, despite having selfies all over my Instagram feed, I don’t always feel 100% comfortable posting them. When no one likes them, I still feel a touch of sadness, even though I only have a handful of followers that have their own busy lives to contend with. Irrational as it is, I still sometimes feel like pictures are for people not me.

The beautiful ones.

And yet, Sunday, for whatever reason, I decided to join in the #sundayselfie craze that goes on every week. Can’t explain why. Devil made me do it, perhaps.

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And there I am. No makeup, no filter (I was tempted), hair tied up in a green and blue head wrap, favorite off the shoulder tee.

And I love it.

May not mean anything to anyone else in the webisphere, but damn, that is something serious for me. I look good, and I’m not ashamed to say that.

And that scares me a little.

As a fat, black woman, daring to love who I am is a radical act. It shouldn’t be, but it is. I’ve had people tell me about I’m almost perfect except I am fat. Almost perfect except my teeth aren’t completely straight (and now you know why I rarely smile.) Almost, but not there yet.

It has taken me years to realize I am not something that needs to be fixed. I’m not broken. Society is. And I am not gonna feed the machine not one more day.

I still have my moments of “ugh, bad everything day,” but more and more I am able to push that to the side, puff my chest out, and strut anyway.

Revelations from one picture.

And more to come.

Positivity Stories

New Glasses, or, How My iPad Attacked Me

I first purchased my glasses when I still lived in Florida. Considering I live in New York now, it’s been quite some time since I’ve had a new pair.

I was solely a contacts girl for a while, though, so they didn’t have much wear, really. Eventually, though, all of my years of wear and tear took a toll on them, and an adjustment made them a bit fragile.

So last week, I was lying in bed with my iPad propped on my chest. It’s in a case that will allow the iPad to stand up when horizontal.

My phone beeps. Oh, a message? I reach over to get it.

And then.

It happened.

*cue Psycho-esque horror music*

My iPad flips forward, and clocks me square on the bridge of my nose as I shift to grab my cell. I laid there, dazed. Then I thought, “Ow, dammit! I’m gonna have a knot on my nose in the morning.” Then I adjust the iPad, and go to reach for my phone. As I turned my head…half of my glasses fell next to me.

“What in the hell…wait, are they broken?!”

Yep. iPad snapped them clean in half.

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I had an emergency pair of contacts to use the next day (I’d transitioned back to glasses as every day use, and contacts on special occasions), as I was fresh out of superglue.

Luckily it was a clean break with no extra bits strewn about, so gluing them together was easy. But I worried. What if the iPad attacks me again? Can they hold up to it?

I couldn’t take a chance. Besides, it had been nigh on 9 years (!!!) since I last got a pair of glasses. So, I went on down to the eye doc for a fresh prescription and a new pair. Being a retro girl at heart, I settled on this pair of Michael Kors glasses:

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They’re a larger frame, and they’re in my favorite color: blue! Love! And the makeup looks I can do with this. For example, I put on the purple lipstick (Revlon’s Violet Frenzy) for the sole purpose of taking these selfies (the before is the top right hand side.) I’m happy I can still pull off a bold lip with such bold frames.

*rubs hands together* Good, good. Fin.

I do so love a happy ending. 🙂

Shopping Stories