*Shh shhh. This is one of few public-secret ones; no self-publicity with any form of public sharing on my social media.*
It comes just as promised from my last story.
This is something of a coming of age in relation to beauty, coming to terms with it as a young black woman, back when I was younger, also back when the widely accepted tropes on black women were only about our loudness, not our ambition, or our heavily sexualised appearance not our beauty. So basically as recently as ‘2013.
I‘m always thankful for the small victory of opening a magazine and finding the ‘one’ face over a sea of countless other faces. We’ve come some way, what with the star-like beauty of Lupita N’yongo only just becoming a household name. And beauty brands finally housing more than one dark foundation shade.
Valuing your beauty as a black woman in the world can be a dangerous game played against the standard markers of beauty in the world, even if you don’t make the mistake of viewing beauty only on its external merits, your inner beauty can still be apparently blackened by something like your candour and your disposition towards speaking out for what is right or your drawing attention from experience to the injustices of oppression. Which can end up being viewed as the ravings of the mad angry black woman.
Eventually, you grow past all this into a more profound understanding of yourself and the world to view it all for what it is; a system of valuing beauty in whatever direction purchasing power falls.
Thanks to my parents’ early on softening the blow on misplaced hope for my validating my beauty with my non-black peers with the African ‘beauty doesn’t last forever’ remark, or ‘find something else to be respected for’. I’ve grown to value other experiences much more highly than I do beauty.
Needless to say, even I have my days when I am not convinced about richer experiences outside and relative to the ones supplied by having a beautiful face. Often there is a trigger something I feel I am missing out on because there have been no open smiles, friendly winks or invitations to the hotties table.
And on these days even after putting up a fight with a few hair re-adjustments, an eye-liner re-touch, an independent woman mantra because “I don’t need validation from the outside in, from the inside out will my confidence shine through”, the self-doubt still creeps in. Suddenly the hair re-adjustments aren’t really changing much, the eye-liner is still the same misshapen flick with no symmetry, and isn’t independent woman synonymous with ‘alone’ woman.
At this point, there really is nothing I know to do instinctively but play the waiting game. Wait for the kind word from a friend that perks me up, the lie-in that eventually clears away the puffiness underneath my eyes, and generally waste time not feeling like my ‘best self’ doing this.
This is, however, a time sacrificing route that now becomes dependent on things outside my control. Potentially hit and miss, with the possibility of being more downcast when that ill-timed questioning ‘Are you pregnant or did you just put on weight’ lands hot on your laps.
But as an angry black woman, I refuse to accept downcast and have now taken to this heady mix of nostalgic and new-wave pick me ups that even when they don’t work, at least make me smile.
Hatha Yoga –
Do some lazy deep breaths and get to sit around comfortably.
Help Someone –
For every self-validation desire, you have there’s a good chance someone close to you is in need of much the same thing.
Take the Trash Out –
I mostly mean men, but you can still restore some of that Feng Shui with a good cleanout.
An entire India.Arie album with warmth, love and happiness. Reminding you that you are uniquely who you are in a sea of ‘others’ and that’s beautiful.