Vulnerability: What It’s Like Being Seen

 

I think the worst part about being a bigger girl (and black to be more specific) is the feeling of never being able to hide.  I have to make up for being conventionally  “unattractive” somehow.  Pay the price for my size by either dominating my space or pretending that it doesn’t exist.  When it comes to personality, do I really have a choice?  I felt like I wasn’t good enough to have a voice.  I really did feel that way.  Shy, but the underlying reason for my reserved character was my fear of being seen.  Metaphorically and literally…I didn’t want people to see me.   It was terrifying having to do simple things like walk to class and force myself to navigate large open spaces alone.  I was never familiar with myself.  If a stranger told me about myself, I would believe them.  I felt like I could literally crumble to pieces with a glance, and that all of my flaws would suddenly seep through the cracks of my conflicted surface so that I had no choice but to wear my insecurities openly… As if I didn’t already.

I guess you could call it anxiety.  Feeling eyes burning into the squishy flesh on my back, into the folds of my inner-thighs, into every blemish and discoloration on my cheek, and into every crack in my crooked smile.  Imagining what I might look like through someone else’s vision and somehow morphing into that monster every time I glanced into the mirror.  See, I wasn’t acquainted with myself so I could easily mold and bend my reflection into what I thought I should be. It’s challenging trying to find new corners within yourself to hide.   I could suck in my protruding belly to make my curves appear less swollen.  But whenever I went to pick up something I dropped on the floor, everything would just spill out again, like the truth from a lying child’s eyes.  I could smile with my lower lip curled in just enough to conceal the gaps between my bottom teeth (took a lot of practice).   But whenever I would laugh, I forgot to cover it and all of my hard work was undone.

You would think: of all the time I spent in the mirror I would’ve learned to love myself.

Something told me to write this post in past tense, as if this is how I used to be.  As if I have grown past that insecure and fragile stage of my life.  But unfortunately, this is me on my bad days.  This is me today.

See, I could write extensively about my good days too.  About how I can confidently stand in front of a mirror, look into my own deep brown eyes, and thank myself for bestowing blessings upon the ungodly land I walk on.  I could go on and on about how much I love the bouncy definition of my curls, how much I adore the maternal gentleness of my skin and the way it soaks in Shea butter, and how much I smile for absolutely no reason at all just because I love the ethereal glow it gives me.

I can write about that too.  But today I wanted to write about this.  I wanted to purge the ugly parts of me that I told you about before.  Because I cannot hide, and if I’m going to decide to be seen I might as well be honest.

 

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