I wasn’t expecting to blog so soon after the last post but the mood kinda hit me right so I had to go with the flow.
Most people who have known me for awhile have known that until recently I wore glasses. Thanks to my Mom’s genes, glasses have been a necessity for me since the age of 7. People have been asking me in recent years, “When are you going to get contacts?” My answer would always be some variation of the excuse that I could not get them into my eyes, which was not a lie. My eyes tend to be very sensitive so it took awhile for them to adjust to the idea of some foreign object being put in them. However, the elephant in my emotional room was the fact that getting contacts scared me. I felt exposed without my glasses and less secure.
My parents called this out a long time ago. They would always quip about how I “hid” behind my glasses and that they were my security blanket. Of course I was not going to just go along with what they said but it was the truth. Not only had I come to feel like my glasses were apart of who I was (judge me if you must but ask yourself what your security blanket is) but they had come to hide something that I felt made me extremely undesirable behind them. When I was seven, I fell down the stairs at church and hit my face. What ended up developing on my left cheek is a form of rosacea, a skin discoloration condition that shows up as red on lighter skin complexions and shows up as dark spots on darker skin complexions. Long story short, one side of my face is darker than the other side. It’s such a glaring difference to me every time I look at it. For the longest time I felt like that spot made me look like Spot the Dog and I clung to anything that would take the attention away from the spot. So I clung to my glasses. I liked bigger frames because I felt like they could better hide this spot, this ugly blemish. I learned how to turn certain ways in pictures so that my left cheek wouldn’t be as exposed as the other. I learned to look for “good lighting” in order to make my skin tone appear to be more even that it is. As a teenager, I wanted to get into wearing make up every day so that I could hide this blemish; however, I just could not get into it. The whole wearing a full face of make up every day tired me out so that was one instance where my personal will won over my insecurities. In this new age of social media with Facebook and Instagram, I quickly learned which filters helped me out – I didn’t want to look different; I just wanted to hide my dark spot, my blemish, my imperfection. Not all of my pictures are filtered (…chill).
I was sitting with a few people today and they were looking at my pictures from my birthday festivities this past weekend. While all agreed that I looked great, I sensed that there was something else that was being said behind all the oohs and ahhs. When one of them said that I didn’t even look like myself, I honestly did not know how to respond. Because ya know, there’s this whole thing about how we praise “natural beauty” and what not but go after the super duper made up stuff…but that’s another blog for another time. Anyway, she then described what looked different about me – the contouring of my nose and cheeks and the difference in my complexion, all the wonders of make up techniques. She looked at the picture and then looked at me and said, “What’s that dark spot on your face?” Now, in the past (and by the past I mean as far back as even a few weeks ago), I would have excused myself to go cry and get myself together. I always felt like this blemish made me ugly so when people would see it and inquire, I would naturally become very sensitive about it. My next thought was to quickly grab my glasses and throw them on. As a newcomer to contacts, I still carry around my glasses just in case. My next thought was how this person has known me my whole life and on today, the day after my 27th birthday, just noticed this blemish.
Fight or flight was real in that moment. I could either give in to my insecurities or I could simply answer her question and realize that this “blemish” has very little to do with the beauty I possess. So I did the latter. I explained to her what rosacea is (with the help of the other person who was sitting there) and explained that it was the reason why I wore my glasses for so long (instead of opting to wear contacts). Her reaction? “Oh. I never noticed.” and we went on talking about something else. To me, that meant one of two things: 1) my glasses really did do a great job at hiding this blemish, or 2) how I perceived this blemish fed my insecurities for years in an exaggerated way. I think it was the latter.
When you’re used to hiding parts of you, it can be scary when you finally allow yourself to live uninhibited. I think I had been anticipating people asking me questions about my blemish, though I haven’t given them much opportunity (between having to revert back to glasses for a few weeks because of a busted blood vessel in my eye and wearing make up for events such as the Baby Shower and my birthday dinner). I guess the reality is that I did not know what to expect from people but part of me was hoping that people would kinda continue to overlook me as usual. The truth is that more people have probably noticed it than have said and the ones who love me feel like it adds depth to my beauty (in whatever weird way that is). It’s been hidden in plain sight. This blemish, nor any of my other ones physically or emotionally, doesn’t take anything away from the beauty I possess and it’s about time that I let that truth sink in to the deepest parts of my heart.
Now what does this mean? It does not mean that I will stop using filters when I feel like it (judge on…me cares not), it doesn’t mean that I’ll stop utilizing make up on special days, and it doesn’t mean that I’ll end my search for the perfect lighting in settings for selfies. What it DOES mean is that no matter what state I’m in – whether I’m in my Plain Jane mode going to teach the kiddies, my “giving God my best” Sunday morning slightly made up face, or letting Flo, Mo, or Chanel go to town on my face for a special event, I’m confident in my beauty and I won’t feel the need to hide it or be ashamed of it, no matter how it presents itself that day. And those who love me are confident in that beauty too.
Unfiltered photos of myself tonight. Lighting isn’t the best but hey, beauty is beauty. No make up on except some light mascara and my lip gloss (because…that’s necessary. No lip chips for the kid!)
For more information about Rosacea, specifically in African Americans, you can go here oooooorrrr Google.
Love yourself…no need to hide behind [whatever]. Be ambitiously you.