Who Ate Your Bowl of Sunshine?

Beauty

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I’m 7 years old. My friend’s mother has just bought us matching dresses: one is yellow and the other is pink. I grab the yellow dress with two hands and big eyes because it looks like sunshine and it has pink flowers on the collar and it reminds me of summer. My friend’s mom wriggles the yellow dress from my hands and says, “You’re too yellow to wear yellow, Lauren. Wear this one,” and shoves the pink dress in my direction. I’m confused. I didn’t know that I was yellow, I thought that I was beige, like my mom had told me. My friend’s mom was nearly my skin color, so did that mean she couldn’t wear yellow either? I didn’t know that there were rules to this. I am heartbroken. I resign myself to the pink dress. I stop wearing yellow for sixteen years.

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Black Mermaid Magic

Beauty

Even before #Flawless was a movement, the idea of being perfect was lowkey everyone’s goal. If you don’t believe me, think about that time when you were in middle school and crying to your parents that dying your hair green was the biggest mistake you’ve ever made, or that no one sat at your lunch table after you spilled vegetable soup all over your white t-shirt. See them tilting their heads slightly to the left with a dismissive shrug and a, “Well hun, nobody’s perfect.”

This is the worst phrase anyone could possibly say in a moment like this because that’s exactly what you were trying to be–perfect. But the new kind of perfect that is unique and never seen before, yet instead, you end up looking more like a rugrat on vacation than (insert tv/movie/music star here).

While I’ve never been a fan of the hashtag, lately I’ve been toying with the idea that flawlessness is a waste of time. Not only because I’m too broken to “fix” what’s “wrong” with me, but also because there’s nothing to fix.

Imagine a world where moles and birthmarks are bits of constellations trying to remember where they’ve been, stretch marks are signs of you holding yourself together against all odds, childhood scars are permanent kisses from your mother when she bandaged your knees, and your body hair is a reminder that you still have more to grow.

Picture a place where rashes, burns, and keloids are praised for their resilience, acne is respected as a crown that is best worn with a head held high, and dress size is seen as a matter of personal preference.

Do you see it? I’m starting to.

My hope is to one day live there, instead of here. Luckily, I think I’m already in the neighborhood.

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When Blessings Aren’t “Blessings”

Beauty

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Some people think that I wear my hair in an Afro as a political statement or as a form of protest, but it’s just freedom for me.

Since I started fifth grade I was teased for my hair. From hearing that it looked like poop that it smelled like it, I was embarrassed that it was so curly. And all over the place. And untamable. And inconsistent. So, to blend in, I straightened my hair–so much that it started to break off and fall out.

It wasn’t until I lost half of my length that I started to think that maybe it was everyone else who was wrong. Not me, not God, but random people that I let change my view of who I already was.

Now, I roll out of bed and fluff my hair with water. It just sucks though because I’m not the only one.

So often we let people, who don’t have what we have, take gifts away from us. Anything like music or painting or soccer or poetry or your hair or your major or your dream or your passion… It’s easy for people to talk you down without realizing that, 9 times out of 10, they’re actually talking down to themselves.

Be awesome and blessed and do you cause that’s more than good enough

 

Something Old, Something New

Beauty

IMG_5728It’s something, to wake up one day and realize that you’ve been living for other people…

I’ve always wanted to wear earrings. But because I grew up (and am still a part of) such a conservative religion, my community saw piercings as one of the worst things a young person could do. “If God wanted you to have holes in your ears, he would’ve put them there Himself,” “Jewelry was only used in the Old Testament to make idols out of gold—if you get your ears pierced, your making yourself an idol,“ “Women are supposed to be modest, and lipstick and earrings are the things of Queen Jezebel.” These ideas caused so much trouble between my generation and my parents’ that it was common for my friends from church to get their ears pierced behind their parents’ back. Sometimes they would be grounded, sometimes their parents wouldn’t speak to them for months. I didn’t want to go that route.

When I was 18, I explained to my parents that I was an adult, that I would like their blessing but didn’t necessarily need it, and would be getting my ears pierced regardless(my mom ended up coming with me; she was silent in the car both on the way there and on the way back). I had the time of my life after that in Argentina, and bought earrings as souvenirs in every city I visited—Machu Picchu, Perú, Río de Janeiro, Brasil, Santiago, Chile, Buenos Aires, Argentina… I even bought a pair at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, when I heard President Barak Obama speak, just as a memory. My Earrings were a trail of the places I’ve been, the people I met, and the parts of myself that I left behind.

When I became Miss Oakwood 2015-16, I decided to stop wearing any type of jewelry because it wasn’t congruent with the ideals of my school. For a while, I would wear earrings to sleep to keep my holes open, but then I gave up. I had met people who encouraged me to not wear them anymore (for their own reasons) and had let myself agree with them. Then I kinda lost myself in general, for a very, very long time.

Yesterday, I was getting dressed, tying my head wrap, and suddenly realized that my outfit needed some cubic zirconium. It needed a touch of personality and familiarity and foreignness (I had never given or sold my earrings and still had them on my dresser). I picked up a couple and gingerly placed them by my ear, just to dream. And then I realized: I stopped doing something I loved to make the people around me more comfortable; so that they would accept me, and judge me less (or for other things). I already know that God literally couldn’t care less about what glittery stud I wore in my earlobes. So I got my wallet and went to Claire’s and got my ears pierced, again, after two years of not wearing earrings.

It was the best decision I’ve made in 2018, and trust me, I’ve been making some life-changing ones already. 🧡 💕 💎