“When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.”
― Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart
The skin we wear is but a thin slice of protection in the life we are living here on Earth. It has been under extreme attack in the societies we exist in for decades and yet, here we are, still alive, still standing strong albeit a little wobbly. Even against the constant pressure to kneel in surrender we stand almost every time. Many have surrendered and many have not and honestly there are times when even I have found myself almost giving in to what society tries to decide for me. If you’re honest with yourself, you probably have done this more than you would like to admit.
The other day I was encouraged by a friend to watch a documentary called “Tiny: A Story about Living Small” on Netflix and it was quite intriguing. It was interesting to see how people were living in homes that ranged from 85 square feet to 300 square feet who had recently owned homes of 1500 square feet or more. It was interesting to see such small homes and these particular people happy or at least looking to be happy. I don’t know if I could live in such small spaces but if it gave me a better sense of self then I’d likely try it as well. All that was intriguing but what was more interesting and even more profound in this documentary was the “knowledge” in the documentary.
These individuals who had decided to live smaller was giving “thought-provoking” points to the people watching the film. One person in particular made a few statements that made me say “oh my, how profound is that.”
She made two statements that stood out to me
- ” I wanted my life to be orchestrated in a way that allowed me access to live my life in a different way”
- ” You have to get comfortable with who you are because who you are may be all you’re ever going to be.”
That last statement was the icing on the cake for me. I just shook my head and said “wow”. Do you believe that the universe talks to us? I do, and I knew had to write on this topic after watching the documentary but I wasn’t sure about the approach or the direction until one of my friends tagged me on Facebook in regards to a poem she had written called “Our Skin” in which she stated “When you are BLACK and loving the skin you are in unapologetic-ally, well that, that is a revolutionary act. You see there are ads, there are creams and everything in between to get you to flip that self-love into self-hate.”
There it was! That was my sign. Not because I’m a black man and can relate but because I know the hard work it takes to stay true to your core when society believes you should be and/or look another way entirely in order to be considered beautiful. I know what it’s like to go against the grain of beliefs, thought processes and outer appearances. And let’s be honest, to deny that society suggest that lighter complexion is more beautiful would be to deny that there is a problem. My belief? That a truly beautiful person’s outer appearance should be a reflection of what’s already inside. How many of us have been around beautiful ugly people? (raises hand)
Let’s move on; in the conversation with my friend she stated that black men don’t often appreciate dark skin women. In general, I’m against generalization but it was not my job to disagree because what she faces is reality in a lot of cases. As a twenty-five year old dark skin black woman she is comfortable in her own skin regardless of what society leads her to believe and that’s powerful. Still, her poem and the documentary made me ask two questions
- What does it take to get to that level of self-love and/or What does it take to get to that level of comfort?
- What type of commitment does it take to sustain being comfortable in our own skins?
Let’s be clear, when I say “being comfortable in our skin”, I’m speaking of all things we believe at our core. I’m speaking about our sexual preferences, our style of dress, our spiritual beliefs, our desires to name a few. The thin layer of skin is but a sample of who we are. With that said, we all will look in the mirror from time to time and struggle with self-image. We say we need a little more of this or little less of that. Aren’t you beautiful as you are? Our individual struggles with the perspective of what society pushes on to us is mighty. Being comfortable in our skin takes a tremendous amount of fortitude.
You see, loving ourselves is not as easy as people make it seem to be. Looking at ourselves in the mirror and seeing the beauty that we are, is not always as clear as the mirror we are looking directly in to. Some of you did not grow up being told how beautiful you are, some of you were not taught to think for yourself and some of you were not taught anything at all by your parents and grandparents. In fact, many of you can probably argue that the things you were taught has done more harm than good in your lives.
So what does it take to get to that level of Self image/self-love? It requires that you throw out every definition of what beautiful is and realize that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. It requires that when you find yourself picking yourself a part instead of placing yourself together that you stop and question not only what you are doing but why you are doing it. Don’t allow the images that are portrayed in our society to define it for you. Your life is your canvas, and even though it may be filled to the edges does not mean you can’t start over with a new one. Be the Salvador Dali of your life. Create beautiful things even if it’s misunderstood.
At the beginning of the day all that we have is who we need to be and at the END of the day all we have is who we’re going to be. So let’s be it one hundred percent! If you haven’t realized by now, I don’t allow anyone to define anything for me until I’ve dissected it to make sure it fits into the person and/or lifestyle I’m living. There are times when I look in the mirror and dislike certain areas of my body and ask myself, why do I feel that way? Sometimes it’s because I’ve allowed society to persuade me that a 6 pack of abs is the epitome of sexy on men. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s hot! But, I had to ask myself, if the reason I want a leaner midsection because of society? Or is it because I want to be healthier? And I want to be healthier, so I continue to run, swim or bike while trying to be more conscious of what I put in to my body.
I’m comfortable with who I am because I understand that my friends and family can’t make me love me or make me happy; only I can do that, only you can do that. Can someone make you feel comfortable or beautiful? Absolutely! Still, that is not sustainable. Sustaining this level of comfort in your own skin requires that you accept yourself but also being okay with changing for the better if it’s something that you truly dislike in your life. We don’t have to be anything that we don’t want to be. We don’t have to do anything that we don’t want to do.
There are situations in life that we can and maybe should allow society to influence us and be for the better, but, if you examine your entire life and upon completion of that examination can not find any of your own definitions then you my friend are not living in your own skin, you are living in someone else’s and calling it self. And that dear reader is ugly.
Your sustainability in self-love, in loving the skin you are wearing, in living the life you desire, requires standing in front of the mirror and BELIEVING you are beautiful. It requires being able to say NO MORE picking yourself a part. It requires saying “I might not fit the mold that society wants me to fit but I fit mines perfectly.” You are beautiful and I accept you for who you are and for who you are going to be going forward. Smile even if it’s crooked, dance even if you have two left feet, mismatch colors even if others don’t., shave your head when others say it’s “asymmetrical and represents the devil”. HA! The devil is not in the hair style, it’s in the person placing judgement.
I posted a question on http://www.facebook.com/noeticthoughts that said “Do you have any questions you would like answered in regards to this topic?” I received only one question from a friend. She asked “Is there anything about yourself you’re uncomfortable about? How do you become comfortable with it, if not?
Here’s my answer: I’m uncomfortable about my financial situation and I have to be more astute with my plan of changing this. This is within my control and I take full responsibility in this. I’m learning to do better from others who have a proven track record at this. I believe that the only things that we should become comfortable with are things that are outside of our control. At some point we have to truly let Go and let God. Meaning, accepting that which we can’t change in that moment. Some things will always be part of who we are because it’s meant for us to experience in this life time. It is the “thorn in our side” so to speak and while it may always be there, that doesn’t mean we have to always feel it……. as long as we understand it.
“Be you, be beautifully you in your skin, that’s all we can truly be and do. We had no decision in the skin that covers our soul but everyday we can make a decision to decide who we are.” -Jay Noetic