Beauty

I never considered myself beautiful or to be even more specific I didn’t think anyone would consider me to be beautiful. Slowly I came to learn to love myself. It took years but I eventually got to a point where I was comfortable with the way I looked. The thought was still in my head though that no one could see that I was pretty. It was an idea that was only shared by me and the girl in the mirror. We would exchange smiles when I complimented her hair and her full lips. She would tell me how nice my eyebrows looked and assure me that I had a cute looking nose. We smiled at each other through the glass, my room lit by the lamp on my bedside casting shadows on the wall behind me. She had dark brown eyes that sparkled when she was happy. Those were on the good days when I woke up and could look at myself in the mirror and feel beautiful. I’m glad to say that they far outnumber the bad.

I may have noticed my beauty but I didn’t think anyone else had. I was surrounded by far more attractive people and what was my look compared to theirs? Rather than trying to compete, I accepted my appearance. I had other things to worry about than the latest line of clothes or the newest makeup trend. As long as I felt comfortable with what I was wearing and how my skin felt that morning, I was ok. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself anyway. My newly discovered beauty was not something I was ready to share. Somehow, people noticed. I didn’t mean for them to. I first realised this in October of 2015 when I was at a local ‘club.’ Two boys came up to me and my friends and commented on the volume of my hair. My hair had finally grown long enough, after having a pixie cut, that I could wear it out. It was the first time that I realised I could stand out. I didn’t intend to.

I had developed a new appreciation for my curly black hair after watching a multitude of videos on how to style it. I never knew how to look after my hair so I used to just put it in a bun or braid it. I never wore it down.

My mum would have preferred me with straight hair or thought that’s what I wanted when I was in my teens. She bought straighteners, which she tried on me a few times, but I didn’t like the way they made my hair smell. It was like putting hair to a lit candle. I didn’t feel comfortable with straight hair either because I couldn’t quite recognise the person in the mirror. It wasn’t who I wanted to be. So the straighteners lie in the cupboard, waiting until my mum eventually takes them out to be used on her own hair. Mum looks lovely, by the way, when she does her hair. It suits her. (My mum looks great all the time).

Being noticed for my hair was new to me. I felt like I had hardly been noticed at all and all of a sudden there came about an identifier unique to me that I had had all along. Learning that I could wear my curls, by watching other people do it, I found new confidence in myself. So, I tried something different. I wore my hair down that night at my friend’s party and we ended up going to the club where my appreciation for my hair was solidified. That was also the same night I realised people other than myself might actually think that I was pretty and somewhat attractive. That, is another story.

‘You’re beautiful’

No one has ever told my sister that she is ugly. I asked her myself,

‘Has anyone ever said that you are “ugly”?’

‘No.’

There are days when she looks in a mirror with me in the room and she says,

‘I am ugly.’

I wonder how often she repeats these words to herself when there’s no one listening. I tell her,

‘That’s not true, you’re beautiful.’ I say it over and over again until she tells me to stop. That’s when I look into her eyes and say,

‘You’re beautiful.’

My sister was not taught to hate the way she looks. Her insecurities grew because she was surrounded by images of an “ideal” that she couldn’t turn herself into. She was assaulted with “views” and “looks” that were manufactured to symoblise ‘perfection.’ A notion that was impossible for such a young girl to carry on her shoulders.

As she couldn’t attain her “ideal self” that the society around her so cruelly asked for, she came to a simple conclusion. She was ‘ugly.’

With some encouragement slowly, my sister is beginning to accept the person that she is. She has a way to go but I know she is strong. She’s beginning to see that there are more important aspects that make her who she is and it’s not just about the way she looks.

There are too many people out there telling themselves things that are not true. What they need is someone looking from the outside to recognise the person that is within.

Look after those around you. Tell them they are beautiful.