There’s a new trend going on where people who are unhappy with who they are, work diligently (and expensively) to recreate themselves.
Look, I’m not going to give a whole speech as to why you should love the skin you are in. I won’t judge you or anyone else for the cosmetic changes that you make. And I’m not going to lecture you on how God made you perfectly the way that He did. But what I will say is that I love M.E.
Years of self-hate…
No one ever explicitly called me ugly growing up. Instead, my weight was always the topic of conversation.
“You’d look so much prettier if you just lost that weight.”
“No one dates fat girls.”
“Lose weight and then we can talk.”
When you constantly hear those comments from family, friends of family, and boys that you were interested in, you begin to hear what they are not saying: “you’re not pretty as you are now.”
After the rape, I spent years eating my feelings and using my weight as my shield from society. I would see those pretty girls in the magazines and I low-key dreamt of what it would be like to be desired like they were. I saw their long straight hair, bare midriffs, and tight clothing and I wanted to be like them. Society said they were beautiful… and I wanted society to say the same about me.
I spent the the better part of my teenage and young adult years trying to look how society said I should look. I did just about every type of diet that existed just so that I could lose weight and look like the women on tv. Little did I realize that if I didn’t work on what was going on inside of me, my external changes would be in vain.
So then I tried to work on the internal M.E. I tried therapy (albeit, not too often), attending church a bit more (but with no consistency or real connection to Christ), and speaking with friends about my issues. But none of those avenues worked. In fact, each avenue further reminded me of the fact that the external ME did not look like the way society said it should.
When everything was said and done, I hated how I looked and my hatred caused me to sink deeper and deeper into depression and self-hate.
The beginning of self-like…
On December 30, 2011 I went to visit my sistah/friend in my hometown so that she could hook up my hair. It was the day before the end of the year and old Black tradition says that you have to look nice, in new items, in order to bring in the new year properly. So my sistah gave me a fresh relaxer and a bomb wrap hairstyle and sent me on my way to celebrate the beginning of a new and promising year. I had been getting relaxers since I was about 8yrs old because my hair was too thick for anyone to handle so I never thought about what life would be like without the creamy product-friend taming my coils.
But then 2012 came and months went by yet I did not go to get my hair done. Instead I bought a hot comb and flat iron and learned how to handle my thick hair. I could always braid and cornroll hair, but doing my own hair was tiresome and often unsuccessful. In April 2012 I was afforded the opportunity to become a member of the best sorority in the world (yes, I said it!) and noticed how all of my line sisters wore their beautiful, natural hair. I figured if they could embrace their coils, then I could, too. So I continued on my journey with no relaxers and began mastering my new friend- the hot comb.
By October I was over the hot comb. I make an appointment with my stylist to cut if my hair…but I also made an appointment with my braid-guru to get some braids to take me through the “awkward” short hair phase. I was happy to finally begin my natural hair journey because it felt…natural.
After the braids came out, I was left with my own hair and I finally saw what I had never seen before- I saw that I was beautiful. I would put my fingers in my hair, play with my coils, and relish in the beauty that was my natural state. I had never been a makeup person but one day I stood in the mirror and admired the woman who was looking back at me. She was flawed, she was wearing braces, she had scars- but she was beautiful.
I wasn’t in love with myself or vain by any means, but I was beginning to like myself. I was becoming comfortable with the skin that I was in.
Finding God…and myself…
Fast forward to mid 2016, at the end of my stay in The Dark Place (my 4 month period of deep depression, anxiety, and isolation). I was still with GD and I was still loving my big, thick natural hair. GD had been telling me for the duration of our relationship that I should get locs because he loved the way my hair looked when I had two-strand twists. Each time he made the comment, I laughed it off and swore that it would never happen. I wasn’t ready for the permanency of locs and I had just gotten used to the versatility of my natural hair. Yet on July 16, 2016, I went to the salon and began my loc journey.
I had thought going natural was liberating but locs brought on a new level of freedom! I felt like I was finally becoming the Yardie (a term that Jamaicans use to describe one another) that I had wanted to be since I was a child and I loved it.
When GD and I broke up in September, I began seeking God more consistently and listening to His call. In fact, that’s how this whole journey started- I was listening to God as He spoke. This journey has taught me many things, but most importantly, it taught me how to be free.
Once I stopped caring about how society saw me, I began to be free. I stopped caring about whether people liked my tattoos, my piercings, my locs, and my unapologetic love for who I am (a Christian, with Jamaican and American heritage). I began to care about how Christ saw me. Was I obeying His word? Was I living by His will? Was my behavior pleasing to His sight?
That was my new concern. And in focusing on Christ and His love for me, I finally began to love ME.
This past Sunday my pastor said something that stayed with me:
“Self love is necessary; but you can’t love yourself until you first love God.”
When we love God and study His word, we learn who we are in Him. If you read the Bible, you will find many scriptures on love… and if you really study the Word, you will learn the four different words that the Greeks used to define the different types of love (the strongest of which being Agape love). Agape love involves faithfulness and commitment. This love is also unconditional and unwavering.
That’s the love that God has for us.
That’s the love that sent His Son to the cross for our sins.
We cannot fully love ourselves if we cannot comprehend the type of love that God has for us.
And once I understood His love for ME, I learned how to love myself.
So you see, I am content in who I am because I am a child of the King.
Who am I, you may ask?
I am a Christian.
I am Black.
I am a Woman.
I am the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant and a Baltimore artist.
I am a sister, auntie, and Godmother.
I am a sister in the largest African-American Greek-Lettered Sorority in the world.
I am natural and loc’d.
I am pierced and tattooed.
I am flawed and scarred.
I am ever-growing and ever-learning.
I am M.E.
And I love M.E.
Beloved, God loves you and so do I.