I have been a fan of Lupita Nyong’o’s for a while now. You may remember I featured her in one of my Pinterest Picks post last year. But when I saw Lupita’s acceptance speech at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Lunch, it gave me a whole new admiration for her. If you haven’t seen it, she talks about her struggle for self acceptance growing up. She talked about her disdain for her dark complexion and how her mother used to tell her that “Beauty cannot sustain you”. The most memorable part to me from her speech was when she talked about when she realized what her mother meant:”Beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.” That struck me hard and got me thinking about my own views on my beauty.
Growing up, I never thought I was pretty. Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I was just plain awkward. I didn’t think there were any redeeming qualities in my looks. My parents told me I was beautiful all the time and like Lupita, I was like” You are my parents, you are supposed to tell me that.” I would look around at my classmates with all the best clothes and shoes, their beautiful skin (both light and dark), and long hair and think that they were so much prettier than me. There I was, gangly and lumbering in my hand me downs, age inappropriate clothes and men’s tennis shoes and think, “What happened to me?” When God was making me, did he run out of beauty before he got to me and decided to give me extra height as a consolation prize?
I would watch as all my friends were pairing off into their little couples and I was left all alone. I used to think that if I was shorter, it would all be so much easier. I would wish that my eyes were hazel, that my hair was longer, and for a brief moment I even wished my skin was lighter. Maybe then I would be beautiful. “I just want to be 3 inches shorter. I don’t like my teeth. My nose is alright I guess. It is a little wide though. My forehead is huge. Why won’t this acne go away?”
Lupita’s speech reminded me that everyone has something. Everyone has something that they don’t like about themselves. Those same classmates who I thought were so gorgeous, maybe didn’t like that their eyes were far apart or maybe they thought that their legs were too big or didn’t like the gap in their teeth. You never know. I look at Lupita and think she is stunning and would have never thought that she felt that way about herself. Never compare yourself to others because you have no idea what it is like to be in their shoes; how long it has taken them to get to what you see now.
Like Lupita said, you just have to be. You have to decide for yourself that you are beautiful and be beautiful. People can tell you all the time but until it sinks down into your heart, it is useless. I’ve grown to like my eyes, my nose, smile, my lips, my shape. You have to focus on the good things. Don’t waste too much time putting a magnifying glass to the little things that bug you. We are our own worst critics and we have to get out of our own heads. I for one am an over-analyzer and tend to over-think things (that is for another post) and have to make a conscious effort not to think too much.
I readily admit, that is easier said then done. There are times when those pesky thoughts creep in; those seeds of doubt that try to be planted in my head. There are those times that I look at other bloggers who are so pretty and whose blogs are so great and I am nothing like them. But isn’t that the beauty of it; that we are not all alike? God made us all different for a reason.
He didn’t make a mistake when he made you no matter what you may fool yourself into thinking. God in his infinite wisdom who sees your end from your beginning did not and can not do something so human as make a mistake. You have a purpose. You are exactly the way you are meant to be. Every inch of you. You are absolutely gorgeous. Remember that.
Forgive the length of this post. I hope I didn’t ramble too much.
I love you all,
I enjoyed this post. I too struggle with acceptance. I sometimes forget my own acceptance is more important than anyone else’s. Lets not even talk about being over analytical. It was so bad at one time I didn’t even want to stand up because I thought EVERYONE would look at me and criticize. For tall girls the struggle is harder. Shorter people can kind of hide, as tall girls were always standing out and getting attention so I always feel like I have to be up to par, or live up to other people’s standards when it comes to “beauty”. All in all, I still love myself but sometimes I may try to convince myself that I could look prettier if I changed a certain thing about myself, but then, I snap back to my senses!
I completely agree with everything you said. I would spend way too much energy thinking about what other people were thinking about me. Just a mess…