How well do you really know the woman who stands before you (or sits behind this keyboard as the case may be)? Some of you haven’t known me for all that long, so it’s natural, but there are a select few of you who have known me for more than a decade, some for more than two decades, and some for practically all of our lives. And in that time, what have you learned? Not a lot, probably, because, believe it or not, I’m private about stuff. Today, for your Friday present, you get a peek inside my head. Yes, it’s a present, like from Jason Voorhees. Leggo.
Do you think I’m pretty? That’s not a question that I can realistically recall asking anyone. Ever. Because up until I was a good 30 years of age, *I* never thought I was pretty so I had no reason to think that anyone else did either. I grew up under the influence of my peers as did so many others, but my peers weren’t like me. I mean, we all had our flaws, but I always had the on the outside looking in feeling. I was trying to live up to a standard of beauty that I could never achieve with my kinky hair and brown skin. As I look back on things now, there are so many avenues I could have seen myself taking if only I had had some self-fucking-confidence back then. I could be a (much more attractive – sorry J) Josina Anderson. I love sports. I’m smart. Dudes LOVE to talk to me. But that was encouragement I never received. I never thought that I could be good enough/pretty enough to be on television. I never thought that I could be pretty enough. Never. Thought. I. Was. Pretty.
Smart? Hell yes. I didn’t have to wonder if I was smart. It can be measured. It was measured. IQ tests and gifted classes and scholarships. But who cared about that, right? Guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses and all of that bullshit. Oh yes, there were times when I wanted to trade my brain power for some pretty girl power. I will admit it. Just a little bit, right? I don’t need to be a genius, so how about I get some cute? This is the society that we live in people. It’s damaging. It’s damaging to hear that you’re “pretty for a black girl”. And we don’t all make it out ok on the other side.
For the longest time, I avoided photos. I never wanted my picture taken. I didn’t want forever proof of my unattractiveness. I would do whatever I needed to do – duck out of the picture, give the person taking the picture the finger in the hopes that they just wouldn’t take it. Whatever it took to not have to see myself at some point down the road in a photo that I had deemed terrible before it even hit the film. My psyche was beat down and my environment kept beating it down. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, small town rural America is just not the place for a young black girl to blossom.
Not to say that I didn’t have friends because I did, and the majority of them were guys. But I was always the friend/little sister. Never was I girlfriend material. Deep down I probably had an inkling that it was just my surroundings, but on the surface, I allowed myself to believe that it was simply because I wasn’t attractive like the other girls. So I’m not pretty. I’ll overcompensate. I’ll be helpful. I’ll be funny. I’ll be smart. I’ll be the shoulder you cry on when YOUR FUCKING GIRLFRIEND TREATS YOU LIKE SHIT. Yep, I’ll be that girl who never shows how she wanted to be your girlfriend and never would’ve treated you that way but will listen to you whine like a bitch about that bitch. I will bend over backwards to make you like me in some way, even if it isn’t in the way that I want.
I lived like this for 30 years, maybe a little more. And then I changed my surroundings.
There were no instant overnight changes, don’t get me wrong. I think part of what changed was that I learned that I have the power of the pussy. That was misguided because getting laid doesn’t mean he thinks you’re hot, just that you’ll do it. But more than that, I figured out that self-confidence was a big part of what might make me attractive to other people (men, ya dicks). I stopped caring so much about what other people thought about my looks. Fuck them, they don’t have to look at me if they don’t want to. I don’t have to/want to/need to wear makeup. I used to say that I’d let the ugly shine right through. I got over that statement as well.
I was still trying to reach that pinnacle of “beauty”. Whatever skin cream would clear up my face and get rid of the dark circles under my eyes – I was buying it. I was attempting to do whatever was in my power to heighten my outward appearance. Boob job? Yup. (you didn’t really think these monstrosities were actually mine, did you?) I was still not fully realizing that what I was looking for had to come from within myself.
I think that eventually I may have come to knowledge fruition eventually on my own, but I have to say that it’s my husband who really helped. He thought I was beautiful from day one. He helped me to believe that not only am I beautiful, but that I am so many other positive things. Strong. Smart. A heck of a shot. A great cook. And these, these are the things, among others, that I now see in the mirror. They still don’t all show up in photos, but I see them and that’s what matters. I hold my head high knowing and believing that I am a beautiful woman and never discounting the things that have happened in the past that led me here. Every wrinkle, every stretchmark, every stupid period zit, they’re all mine. They’re all me. They’re all beautiful. I can tell you with 100% honesty, that never in my life have I felt the words of this poem ring so true. I am a phenomenal woman.
Phenomenal WomanPretty women wonder where my secret lies.I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s sizeBut when I start to tell them,They think I’m telling lies.I say,It’s in the reach of my arms,The span of my hips,The stride of my step,The curl of my lips.I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.I walk into a roomJust as cool as you please,And to a man,The fellows stand orFall down on their knees.Then they swarm around me,A hive of honey bees.I say,It’s the fire in my eyes,And the flash of my teeth,The swing in my waist,And the joy in my feet.I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.Men themselves have wonderedWhat they see in me.They try so muchBut they can’t touchMy inner mystery.When I try to show them,They say they still can’t see.I say,It’s in the arch of my back,The sun of my smile,The ride of my breasts,The grace of my style.I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.Now you understandJust why my head’s not bowed.I don’t shout or jump aboutOr have to talk real loud.When you see me passing,It ought to make you proud.I say,It’s in the click of my heels,The bend of my hair,the palm of my hand,The need for my care.’Cause I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me