Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Soul Cleanse 29: E is for Embrace

Isn’t it interesting that babies are encouraged to be plump, but as we get older, we are told to lose the plump? It is expected that as we get older, the “baby fat” will just melt away like butter.

Guess there’s some butter that decided to be lard instead.

Soul Cleanse 29:  Embrace the shape/skin I’m in now and celebrate any victories in its’ improvement.

Okay, so the opening is a bit harsh, but this type of thing isn’t really meant to be sugar coated.

I always like seeing my grandma talk about me to others as it pertains to when I was a baby.  Sure, sometimes, I get a bit of a blush, since it’s also weird hearing your grandmother talk about you to someone else when you were a baby.  Excerpts would go something like this…

“Monica was one of the most well behaved babies.  She was very quiet.  I’d put her in the cart and she’d never give me any fuss while I was shopping.  She smiled a lot.  People would just come up to me because they just liked looking at her, always told me how beautiful she was.“

I could just see and hear the happiness.  I just wish I could have held on to those words and the feelings associated with them.

When I got out into the world, I realized quickly everyone did not see beauty in exactly the same way.

My thick hair was seen as nappy

My strong cheeks were seen as fat

My deep eyes became bug eyes.

1st grade was my first exposure that the world didn’t think I was pretty.  

It was close to the end of the day, and everyone was waiting on the buses to arrive.  One of my female cousins and her friends had a reputation for being bullies; relatives were no exception to this rule.  They thought my face needed a few improvements.  So, two of the girls held me down while my cousin decorated my face with makeup.  Deem it abstract art mixed with tears.  By the time a teacher arrived, the damage had already been done.

As I got older, it was discovered I was nearsighted and I needed glasses.  Back then, glasses weren’t nearly as glamorous. 

Also, if you were deemed poor, you didn’t have as many choices in the selection of lenses or frames.  

When I went to the eye doctor, people could tell which one you were.  People who could afford cool frames could pick directly from the carousel.  People who were dependent on assistance had to select from a drawer, and the pickings at that time were slim.

The first pair of glasses I got (back in 3rd grade) had clear frames.  The lenses weren’t plastic but actual glass, so they were very heavy and I always had to be careful with them.  They were also big, so it made my cheeks and eyes look bigger than they were.  The "four eyed chants" became quite prevalent.  Assistance recipients did not have the option to get contacts. 

As time went on, I was finally able to have glasses without the glass lenses, but the pickings on the frames were still a bit slim.  One day, I told the optometrist, “Can you put in a request that poor kids like pretty frames, too?”  

I don’t know if it was that one request or if a lot of people had been requesting it, but a year later, I noticed that purple, brown, and red frames had been added to the black and white that was normally in the drawer. 

So there was a period of time when I went through my “Sally Jesse Raphael phase”.  I was rocking the red frames, and although I still got teased, it didn’t impact me as much because I thought anything was better than the clear ones.

Also, it didn’t help that I developed early…breast wise that is.  

Although guys may find that fascinating, to a girl at nine years old, it just looks like another layer of fat.  While most of the females around me were flat, I had to worry about a training bra.  Plus, my baby fat had taken the role of a clingon, so I couldn’t even shop in the normal section of the store.  

Sears, Pretty Plus Area, was where I resided, and although that line has come a long way, the clothes back then were very ugly.  Not fabulous, no chic…just look thrown together and dumpy. 

"Blimp" got added to the adjectives.

In addition, it definitely didn’t help that other female cousins caused me grief and pain, nor the very rare times my mom did decide to send me something to wear, it was purposely two sizes too small.

Along that time, I was also feeling a bit of pressure.  7th grade heading into the 8th grade.  Other girls were becoming very sophisticated with their hairstyles (getting perms, finger waves, etc.) while I was still rocking plaits and braids.  I wanted to update my look in the hope I wouldn’t be made fun of as much.

Grandma wanted to help, but most of the hairstylists were charging a bit more than she could pay out to perm my hair.  She heard from one of the neighbors of this lady who was training to be a cosmetologist and would charge little to nothing to do my hair.   Grandma got the number, made the appointment, told the lady that I wanted a mild perm put in my hair.

I went to the lady’s house.  Now, keep in mind, before this time, I’d never had any chemicals in my hair.  This fact is very important.   

So the lady is doing her work.  I’m noticing what she is putting in my hair smells very bad, but I am thinking it’s just part of the process…so I don’t say anything.

Needless to say, I was absolutely horrified when I saw that my hair had been transformed into a Jheri Curl instead of the perm that was requested. 

I screamed, and I cried.  I really was going to be the laughing stock now.  The torture would be worse than when my hair was in its’ natural state.

The lady was scared out of her wits.  I guess she hadn’t been trained on how to handle a very ticked off Grandmother who had just gotten dropped back off from grocery shopping to see the results and a very distraught 13 year old.

“I can fix this,” she assured us.

Her fix was to try to vigorously wash and condition my hair and put the perm that should have been in my hair on top of my curl processed hair.

Side Note: If anyone in cosmetology school even acts like she can fix a mistake like this by putting another process on top of it, run.  Or better yet, tell the instructor she needs to be retrained.

Yes, for the first week or so, my hair appeared fine, but then it started coming out.  Not just a little bit at a time, but lots of strands at once.  I didn’t have the confidence to rock my hair short.  Long was the thing.  Permed was the thing.

For this, Grandma saved up the money and took me to a professional.  The professional, who later became my permanent hairdresser from then until I went off to college, instructed us my hair needed time to grow and get healthy ; she wasn’t comfortable with putting a perm back in my hair until it got healthier.  She did give a solution---to put braids in my hair.  I had never had them, but I would give them a try. 

I didn’t fully appreciate how ahead of the curve I was when I got my wavy braids.  I liked them and thought they were nice; others didn’t—teased me for not having real hair.

Even when I started not appearing as flabby, it was hard for me to truly see the beauty. 

A few of the people I was in relationships with made it hard for me to see the beauty as well.  One in particular nitpicked at everything, from what I wore, to how it made me look.  I felt like I was being bullied and teased all over again.

But all of these things I went through showed me I had to find the beauty within myself.  Yes, it helps when others, especially those close to you, believe you are beautiful, too. 

But I have to be my greatest cheerleader, my greatest supporter.

I had to be by myself, after my last (and longest) relationship to get to this place, but I am glad I have arrived.  

To embrace myself where I am, rather than get stuck on who I was back then.  I can’t get caught up on whether I can recapture my figure in high school.  I’d rather celebrate where I’m at now, for how I treat myself now can ensure how things will be for me in the future.



Reggie said...

Don't nobody want a bone but a dog.

No Labels said...

@Reggie...where were you so many years ago?

Thanks for that!