In my early 20’s my definition of beauty was greatly influenced by the commercial images that saturated magazine covers and television. I was a slave to society’s definition of beauty; so much so that it altered my perception of my own beauty.
I remember standing in line at the grocery store staring into the faces of people who looked NOTHING like me. The hue of their skin was either white or light, their hair, long and straight and their bodies fit and lean. Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Time, People, Ebony or even my beloved Essence Magazine didn’t believe women that looked like ME were beautiful enough to grace their covers.
The BEAUTY of aging is the wisdom of the life you’ve already lived; and the lessons you’ve gathered along the journey. I realize now that the absence of ME and women baring my resemblance, forced me to look inside mySELF and take note of the BEAUTY that dwelled within ME. It also made me appreciate the simplicity of life and find JOY in the BEAUTY of things that are often overlooked and taken for granted.
This month in O Magazine, Lady O poses the question,
My initial thought, “O Magazine is about to redefine Beauty as we know it. An all inclusive celebration, encompassing women from all walks of life in different shapes, sizes and hues. A celebration of REAL women.”
I was elated as I thumbed through the pages looking for the featured article. I reached page 94, paused, and then flipped back to the front cover…
“What’s Beautiful to YOU?”
How To Find The Lovely In Every Day…
Instead of the Superficial celebration of external Beauty I expected, I found an insightful exploration into the simple joy of LIFE. Eight enchanting stories about discovering the BEAUTY of the unexpected. From sugary treats to snail trails, these first-person narratives fed my soul and led me to reflect upon my own definition of Beautiful.
A Beautiful Mine…
I was about 12 when I fell in love with WORDS. I was mesmerized by the captivating beauty of a well written story. The alluring love affair of nouns, adjectives and properly placed punctuation would send my heart racing. I was a bookworm and WORDS were my EVERYTHING.
Books and the artistry of brilliant authors were the gateway to my awakening. The works of Hughes, Angelou and Hurston slowly changed my perception of BEAUTY and the ESSENCE of being a full-figured, black woman in America.
The POWER of WORDS
WORDS are Transformative. WORDS changed ME. They continue to change ME.
The inspirational WORDS written on post-it notes that frame my bathroom mirror motivate ME. The reassuring WORDS of loved ones and friends lift ME and give ME strength and the Life affirming WORD of GOD repairs and restores ME. Words are my EVERYTHING.
It is the power of WORDS that empower ME and reassure ME that I am enough. My narrative is constantly evolving and as my story changes, so do the illustrations that accompany it. The young girl who once shied away from the camera, has become the Selfie Queen. A woman that fully embraces her brown skin, chubby cheeks, large thighs and ample bosom.
I will always be a work in progress, making self improvements and tweaks along the way but the improvements are by choice, not force. I’ve reached that part of the journey where I can Unapologetically say, “F@#K Society’s Beauty Standards!”
BE YOU, UNAPOLOGETICALLY