This post is dedicated to every woman who has felt the push to be any and everything she isn’t in order to embrace or conform to societal’s definition of beauty and what’s right.
Notice how each day can be a constant struggle to be you? The real you. The you that feels like comfy, worn socks; the you that feels like that beat up old sofa you just love. At home in your skin, at peace with your body and your image and the way you present yourself to the world.
Every once in a while I get those subtle hints and forthright remarks that I ought to change the way I look or the person I am. I was born an original. I won’t die a copy or clone to fit any societal expectation. Cause I may settle into them and then see the rules change. It happens all the time. Look at how society’s definition of appropriateness and beauty change ever so often.
It took me 33 years to be comfortable in my own skin. To own all of me with pride and to see myself as an expression of His handiwork and beauty. You see, I am beautiful. From the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, every mole, pimple, freckle or oddity has contributed to me being me. And I am enough. In this very moment, just the way I am.
At every turn there’s some suggestion to change, to conform to what society dictates, to look like everybody else, to be different, to be other than me.
But I’m content with the way I am. I’m happy and satisfied in my own skin. And I just want to keep that way and not yield to the constant bombardment to look and be any other way than I am. I want to live my truth. I just want to be me and walk in the manifestation of what that means. I want to be the me I was created to be; the me I’ve come to love, trust and appreciate.
I want to tattoo my skin and adorn my glorious canvas. I want to pierce my skin and add more jewels to an already beautiful piece. I want to color my hair in every shade of the rainbow cause it makes me happy. I want to just be me and express that in a way that fills me with joy and causes me to embrace the mastery that I am.
I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within – Rumi
So I won’t conform to your standard of beauty. I won’t take up your ideals. So,
- Don’t ask me to grow my hair. You are way out of line. So what if I had ‘good hair’ that I cut off? It’s my choice. Not yours. And it’s just hair. Not a limb.
- Piss off with the request to change my hair color. It’s my head, my money, my dye. With all the shit happening in the world you seriously want to take issue with a black blonde?
- My body is mine. I don’t need you to tell me when and if I need to go to the gym. Focus on yourself first.
- Your views on tattoos or piercings are yours. And you’ve got a right to have them. Now keep them to yourself and don’t force them on me. If it means I’m going to hell according to you then I’ll have company there! Judge much?
- Don’t tell me I have a problem when I ask you to respect my boundaries and my right to be me. I have a right to defend my personhood.
Why? Cause the version of me I see, the version of me inwardly and outwardly is someone I fought hard to be. And fight even harder to express unabashedly and without apology. I am comfortable in my skin. I love my flaws as you perceive them to be. I am completely and unapologetically me for the first time in my life and an army of you can never change that. I’m no KimK or Amber Rose and neither do I have any desire to be. I don’t want Beyonce’s flowing tresses, Blac Chyna’s butt or Nicki’s European nose. If that works for them – fine. More power to them! But it ain’t for me. I don’t want what is not me. For I am enough. With a forehead like Rhianna I am enough. With piercings, tattoos, bleach blonde hair and skin something between chocolate and caramel, I am still enough. I relish in the features of my African ancestry as much as I bask in the fact that I have the right to determine what beauty is to me and not what society demands or expects me to believe.
You’re free to change or embellish as you desire. And you’re free to carry your own definition of beauty, rightness and appropriateness and what all that stuff means to you. But this right here, in this skin that I’m in, in the woman I’ve fought to become – is just golden to me.
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.