This blog is based loosely off my experience attending the Charm.Beauty.Fear event hosted by Princess Kut, LLC. Special thanks to Ms. Krystle Maclin (CEO) for hosting an event of this kind, which served as a tremendous source of encouragement to me.
(noun) 1. a power of pleasing or attracting, as through personality or beauty: charm of manner; the charm of a mountain lake. 2. a trait or feature imparting this power. 3. charms, attractiveness.
I sat in my Dad’s office at church the night before. My head was throbbing. The burden had become too heavy for me to carry by myself so I decided that I would share with him [an abridged version of] what was going on with me. He listened intently as he looked me square in the eyes. As I fumbled over my words and mentally sorted out what details he should know simultaneously, i felt tremendously vulnerable and that shamed me. How did i get here?
Dad looked at me and stated that he figured as much as I had told him (don’t you hate when parents just know?). He also told me that he felt that deep down inside I was still that shy little girl who didn’t want to disappoint anybody. But somehow, i had to find my own voice and i had to be comfortable with who Ashley is and be OK with what Ashley wants to do. He told me it was OK.
That’s what I needed. And though it was refreshing to be able to accept that realization, I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been in a physical fight. I laid in bed for 20 minutes looking at the wall and debating to myself about whether I was going to this PK event. I simply did not feel like it.
I finally drug myself out of bed and got dressed. I felt like I needed to look cute, which brought on another wave of exhaustion. I hate when I feel i have to care too much about my appearance. I determined that I was going to look better than I felt so I threw on some mascara and some red lipstick. I thought…red lipstick always makes me feel better.
Fast forward: I sat there as Ms. Kym Lee, famed Make Up Artist, bared my entire life at the moment with her words. Though she could speak with authority on outward beauty, Ms. Lee spent that session speaking about what truly makes a woman beautiful. [mental check] Be interesting, be pleasant, be original.
It was clear that this woman, full-figured by industry standards, was charming and self-assured. From her blond hair to her flawlessly made up face to her courageously fashionable outfit to her signature white nails, Ms. Lee embodied charm and spoke it with authority. It endeared me to her message and I sat there and felt a little bit of everything…a little convicted, a little encouraged, a little pushed.
(noun) 1. the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
I looked around the room at all of the attendees. We all looked different – we had different styles and different ways we presented ourselves. In times past, being in a room full of people like that could have incited a mini panic attack. And on the right day, it still can. For so much of my life, I had to work extra hard when around a group of people to push myself past what was comfortable. I am naturally an introvert so social situations can get awkward for me internally. However, being a preacher’s kid forced me to have to work through that anxiety because after all, you don’t want to add any extra stigmata to the already full plate of stereotypes and negative behavior expectations of preachers’ kids (*insert heavily sarcastic smirk*…I’m still working my way through this y’all…).
Ms. Lee was still talking, still strumming my pain and telling my life with each point she made. She expounded on confidence – “You have to work at it and it’s a lifelong process.” Wait a minute – lifelong? You mean I may always be fighting to feel the best about myself? The thought alone exhausted me. But at that moment I realized that she was right. I think I had internalized for so long that once I finally felt good about myself, it would just be something that was automatic and permanent. But this confident, self-assured woman of God sat there and made me face the music. “Find your own version of passion, pearls, and pumps.” Passion, pearls, and pumps is the concept that she developed as a mechanism for helping her confidence. She exhorted us to find something (whether it be a piece of clothing, jewelry, make up, etc.) that would help boost our confidence on those days when we don’t wake up feeling our best.
(noun) 1. is a liar.
The first planned activity of the day was a painting class/clinic. We sat in front of our blank canvases, the only thing present on them were a few lines to give basic direction about where we were going with this. I have never been the artistic type so I was a bit nervous. I was convinced that my chaos would not be considered art so I approached this activity with a bit of timidity.
Juvale guided us through the process. She gave us basic directions but she allowed us to have leeway to be as creative as we felt we needed to be. Throughout the process, I looked around at others. Though we were all using the same colors and painting the same picture, all of ours managed to look different in one way or another. This unnerved me a bit. I kept looking at the canvases next to mine and I would tweak mine based off of theirs. I don’t think that was how this was supposed to go.
The closer we got to the end, the more nervous I got. My painting was not looking as great as I wanted it to look. I was not succeeding. I was not up to par. I was not keeping up. I was not made for this. These thoughts swirled in my head because I had internalized them for so long in other areas of my life that naturally they came up during a time when I wasn’t even supposed to be measuring myself. How do i stop this?!?
We finished and everyone went around showing their paintings. I kinda held mine to myself, ashamed of what I had come up with. I looked around and saw women showing off their paintings, while at the same time acknowledging that they may not like what they had done on theirs either. The difference was that they were comfortable with sharing and knew that this painting, no matter how masterful or basic, had no bearing on who they are and what they had to offer. They laughed and joked about it…and I watched. And i took it in. And i made a mental note to myself.
I determined that i was going to change up my M.O. I snapped pictures of mine and posted it on my Instagram. I came home and hung it on my wall. No matter how it may look to me or to others, this was my work and i could be proud because i did it my way and i gave it my all.
And this is me. It doesn’t matter what I may look like to others nor how they feel about me, I can be proud of who I am because I’m doing what I am equipped to do and I am giving it my all. That’s the way to be interesting, pleasant, and original. That’s the way to be beautiful.