The first time i felt betrayed by my body was in the 4th grade. Seemingly overnight, i’d morphed into a nine year old with a solid B cup. During a period when invisibility was the thing i yearned for the most, i began to get a good deal of attention from the most inappropriate quarters. At that age, it is not the ego boost it sounds like.
High school came with its own set of struggles. I hadn’t blossomed into the coke bottle figure that i assumed was standard issue for Ghanaian women.
(“You see it now? Your mother should have let me put the waist beads on you when you were born. Hmm”- Aunty A.)
Nor had i shed the “baby fat” this same mother had assured me would melt away once i “stretched out”. Self-consciousness was slowly ceding to full- blown insecurity.
The college years and beyond were an abyss. I was a large black body in a kingdom where the skinny white form was queen. At least in Ghana there’d been a small but vocal tranche of the dating pool who appreciated my aesthetic. In America ( and worst France. France), i was bombarded by constant reminders that i wasn’t good enough. Instead of sitting my ass in the corner, i was quite the social butterfly. Yet each time i got ready for a Friday, Saturday and Sunday night out ( yeah i went hard for a while lol), i’d have an attack of self loathing. Id dump all my clothes on the bed, try outfit after outfit and hate the way i looked in them all. Sweaty and tearful, i’d call my girls and try and to get out of going. They’d threaten me with bodily harm if i dared, so i’d pick something, put on my “confident woman” face and go fake the funk..knowing that i’d get a few pitying glances, back-handed compliments, or a rude comment or two for being the DUFF.
It didn’t help that my friends were, and still are, fine like summertime. I was living the Thumb Life, and i was MISERABLE.
You know the worst part of this story? The whole time i was hating myself i was also furious because i KNEW better. I KNEW i shouldn’t let a faceless cabal define my self-worth, or “ideal” beauty standards. I KNEW that looks were the least valuable thing about an individual. I KNEW i was intelligent, and generally pretty damned awesome. I KNEW i wasn’t really a DUFF. But none of this helped me. For if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it…….
So why am i telling you all of this? Because today i am HEALED! Praise be!
And it hurts my heart that there are sisters out here wasting their best years as i did, not fully embracing life’s experiences because they feel less than. Don’t do it! If you are out reading this.. CEASE AND DESIST at once. Please. Life gets more stressful and complicated the older we get. There is no time or energy to devote to worrying about looks.
Embracing the Thumb Life.
“Your face is your face”, Abi would declare matter-of-factly.(Usually after i whined that i still looked a mess in the tenth attempt at a perfect group shot). This has become a favorite mantra. Surgery aside, there isn’t much you can do about your face, flat chest, skinny legs, big stomach, flat ass etc. What you CAN do, what i unconsciously did over time, is accept what is, work with it, and present the “Best You Possible”. I’m currently outchea confident i’m the flyest thumb that ever liveth and i couldn’t be happier. Once you conquer this, you can get back to the stuff that really matters: your personal, professional, and spiritual development.
Learn your Shapes and Colors
I bet you thought you mastered those in kindergarten. Surprise! 🙂
The surest way to presenting the “Best You Possible” is to learn your shapes and colors.
Understanding your face shape is fundamental:
You will know the best (sun) glasses frames for you.
You will have an idea of the hairstyles that will be most flattering.
You’ll be able to shape your eyebrows and make up contour application for maximum fleekyness..and the list goes on.
Just because it’s fashionable, doesn’t mean it’s flattering. I can never, ever wear high waisted jeans with a crop top, unless i want to look like a lollipop..and that’s ok.
There are silhouettes that accentuate your best assets, based on your body shape, and plenty of literature to help you figure this out.
Surface tone and undertone. Warm and cool tones. Golden and peach undertone. Color wheels. If all this is gibberish, then you have some reading to do. Understanding what colors work for you, and go best together will take every outfit to the next level. Your make up will be flawless because you picked all the right shades. It will even help when choosing jewelry. There is a lot to read, and it can get detailed, but this is a good starting point.
** It goes without saying that the “best you possible” is also the healthiest you possible, but i’m going to leave that alone. Let me not be a hypocrite and dole out advice that i’m barely putting into practice**
*** It is very possible to over-do your research. I now know the best nail and ring shape for my finger type. Ees not nelzry!***
I’d like to re-emphasize my earlier statement. The most important and beautiful things about all of us have nothing to do with looks at all. But if you ever struggle to believe that, i hope this at least lets you know you arent alone.