Growing up I never felt “pretty”. I always felt awkward, didn’t really feel like I fit in. Representation of girls that looked like me wasn’t very fluid in the 90’s and if it was I was not exposed to it. Born to a teenage mom and her loving mother, there was really no time to focus on building my self esteem in the manner of “you’re beautiful”. What mattered at that time was my mom getting through high school while somehow keeping me fed, and clean. I am thankful for both those things, but I was never a child who was told how “beautiful” she was. I never felt like I needed that sort of validation growing up, I was happy with it not being a main focus in my household FULL of gorgeous women who had no time to worry about rather their eyeliner was placed correctly.
I think I realized I was different in the fifth grade, that my hair was different, the way I dressed was different, and that the way that I saw beauty was different. I found beauty in being able to roll down my grandmothers grassy hill, hair wild, clothes messy, no one making a fuss over my ripped jeans, that was beautiful for me. Growing older, when boys started to matter I started to change, I started to cringe at the way my hair would lay, obsess over my flat chest, I even had a bout where I just KNEW I had acne and needed proactiv (I did not). I was officially coming into the fact that I wasn’t very beautiful and far too old to roll down hills to grasp the memories of beauty that I once had as a child. Sure, guys liked me and that was okay but that never really made me feel “beautiful”, surprisingly beauty has nothing to do with how much someone else feeds your ego but that’s an entirely new blog post in itself.
I had to accept me for me and I did not do that until I found out I was pregnant with Ri. There was no time for me to have a low self esteem or allow my sense of self worth to ever drop, at least not on the surface, not where she could see, but on the inside I was a mess…rather a work in progress. I knew that I deserved more but I felt like I would never pull my self love out of the depths of my self hate. And there was no one to blame or point the finger at. It was something that I had to do on my own, and it was not easy.
A true turning point was when I decided that my beauty was and always had been on the inside, once I cleared away all the junk of what people said about me, the way I looked, my style of dress. All the insecurities of growing up fatherless…once I let go of all the sh*t that was weighing me down, I began to fly (Toni Morrison Reference) and I’ve been a swan since that point in my life. I vow to give this gift of self love to my children, I want them to love everything about themselves from hair follicle to the bed of their toenails. Once you decide you’re beautiful, both inside and out, no one can take that from you.
Until next time…
Photo c/o Aaron Burden