Just the other day, I wore red lipstick, for the first time. Actually it was the first lipstick I’d ever worn in my entire life. It was clammy between the purses of my lips, but I didn’t mind it. This notion made me completely ecstatic. To you, this may seem a bit superficial. However, for me, it’d been a long time coming.
I was afraid I’d be noticed with anything additional or too bright. I did not want to be noticed, I wasn’t ready to adorn myself with anything that prompted catcalls and stares.
The truth is…
I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. In fact, for a few years, I’ve been wearing someone else’s. I get up every morning, pat on makeup, slip on my heels and borrow words for the day, words that I don’t recognize as my own. I even delve into habits that weren’t previously a portion of my idiosyncrasies: eyebrows, nails, and organization.
The truth is, I was a skater girl: A kick loving, curse slinging, and over analytical extrovert. I was a nerd (still am) with a zest for journaling, Harry Potter, romance, and drama.
High school and college stifled me. Girls in higher heels and upper echelon begged me for tact. They caressed the underlying notions that I’d never be good enough. Everyday, as I faced the mirror, I realized that I was an impostor.
I am a shell of my former self.
I’m 5’11, with size twelve feet, big hands, an awkward smile and a stomach that kind of spills. To the stores, I am TALL, LONG and find-it-online. To the bullies, I was Sasquatch goofy and nerd. To the men who failed to assess internal beauty parallel to external, I was “alright” or “okay.” To myself, I wasn’t deserving.
That’s where it starts, doesn’t it? With yourself?
I found it hard to take compliments. I often cringed at the utterance of beautiful or pretty directed towards me, suppressing the urge to look behind me and search for the woman they were truly talking about. Defense mechanisms were my forte:
1) In social settings, when the men are more adoring of your friends instead of you, twiddle with your phone. It shows you don’t care.
2) If anyone asks what’s wrong, nod and smile. Never let on too much. Insecurity is not attractive.
3) Stay clear of things you used to love to wear, before anyone pointed out their flaws. Bright colors, horizontal stripes and tighter things only emphasize your thickness.
4) Talk fast and quick. Perhaps if they know you are a celebrated poet, scholar and writer; your looks won’t matter too much.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to confront my insecurity. I stood on my first well-known stage surrounded by people who actually had requests. Fans of sorts. I could have dropped my bitter cloak there. I should’ve swallowed the attention whole and relished in the fact that I was a great writer, performer and someone who deserved everything.
Instead, I blacked out. I let a pretend confident spirit envelop me and tear the stage apart. A train car voice cascaded from my lips and took charge of her surroundings. No microphone needed, I’d placed my morale, in rhyme, on the ears of many. It was beautiful. However, the instant the clapping faded and I cascaded down the stage’s steps; I was hunch shouldered, smirk-never-smile and nervous-wreck, shell of me, all over again.