Tuesday, May 6, 2014

“Omigah, You’re so Perf!”

Today, we have a special guest post from a lovely woman I have had the pleasure of knowing and growing up with. She's incredible, and if you don't believe me, just read this post. It certainly reminded me of many things I should be focusing on in my own life. Her name is Niagra, now go fall madly in love with her words, just as I did.

“Omigah, You’re so Perf!”

            So how do you feel pretty in a pretty-obsessed world? I can make it simple and tell you all of the cliché stuff Dove commercials use where they capture ‘real women’, as if there is some forbidden land or alternate universe where ‘fake women’ live, (yeah, I know they mean actresses, but using the term ‘real women’ doesn’t make me want to buy your product). Or I can tell you the same things those self-proclaiming, ‘liberating’ naked magazine ads do where they use those celebrities who make you rethink eating that second serving of a good home-cooked meal, and committing to a life where all you can consume is a cup of green tea. 

Or I can be real with you.

            Feeling pretty these days is really, really, really, hard.

            Maybe even a chore.

            Is it not our job as women to look pleasing and appealing to men? And how confusing is it these days, honestly. At least back then all you had to do was to make sure to not be fat. Nowadays, you can’t be skinny either. You have to have a small waist, large hips, more ‘blessed’ attributes, and the perfect calves. Nowadays you have to look ‘fit’, because men really dig girls with six-packs now, oh, and thigh-gaps. And if you’re skinny, you can’t be too skinny, to the point you look ‘unhealthy’. And if your thick, you can’t be too thick, or else someone will mistake you for weighing over two hundred pounds. And if you’re too much of any of these things, then don’t expect to get what you think you deserve, because it’s your fault

If you’re a fat girl, don’t expect to get a fit guy, because it’s your duty to make sure your fit too. If you’re a skinny girl....well, you’re just a big meanie-pants for being skinny, (sticks tongue out at all the skinny girls/women in the world). It’s almost as if there is a certain formula for being the perfect girl. Kind of like building a cake. I watch my sister bake or make cakes all the time, and I can never perfect the art (oh, haha, there’s that word again). If you add too much of one thing, the whole cake is ruined. These days, being perfect, is a lot like that.
Darn you hot dog legs!

Oh, and there are perfect girls out there.

    Social media has taken large parts of the world by storm, but seemingly the only thing that makes it of good use is taking selfies. Now I’m not shy to selfies, you kind of need them to get by on social media. I learned that the hard way. The first time I made an account to Facebook, I put a picture up of a butterfly as my profile picture, and got a bunch of snarky comments at school. “I didn’t know you were a butterfly.” Oh, well, I don’t have the next i-whatever to take a decent picture, so.....

            And thus, began the rule of the selfies.

            And there are those girls who are ‘perfect’. Who get those diamond comments: I wish I were you! Omigah, you’re so perf! Perf: shortened for ‘perfect’, isn’t that clever? And as I am feverishly typing away on my bed, I hear my sister beside me gush about the women she follows on those social media apps, and about them all being so ‘perfect’. She shows me them, and my psyche gauge depletes to critical levels. Only later do I notice that all of these women have a few things in common, things I’m sure you can figure out. 
Basically, they don’t look anything like me.
            Not. One. Bit.

The Great Deceiver (cackles manically) I have all the traits of a mystical, magical siren
            Most of you don’t know me or what I look like. And I must admit that my profile pictures are a bit deceiving (I make it a goal to only expose from the neck up, sometimes not even that. Sadly, this is only about twenty percent of the body). 

I am a big girl. Always have been. Have always struggled with losing weight. Have always wistfully looked at my friends or family with much prettier silhouettes or shapes then me. I’d like to kid myself into saying I was curvy, but I consider myself just really....lumpy. I’m laughing as I type this now, but it’s true. My sister sometimes says, ‘oh you’re hourglass shaped’, and while I am proportioned on both top and bottom, why disregard my middle? If we are talking about shapes now, I’d truthfully say I’m more, ‘cardboard-box shaped’. Or, ‘newspaper-shaped’.

Newspaper-Shaped, which is good, because I like newspapers
So, moving on, I also resemble my mother a lot, who is a beauty. 
Did you see that? That one little word? Resemble?
            I don’t look like her.
            I resemble her.

People mistook us for twins.....(scratches beard) .
            People sometimes mistake us for twins if they look too quickly, but then they stand there, and look long enough, and go, “Oh, you’re not Mrs. Campos.” We have different complexions, different bone-structures in the face. I am darker, seemingly always flushed (I am probably the only dark-skinned girl you’ll know to blush red), and my features are more exaggerated. Smaller eyes. Smaller nose, with a bump on top. Smaller lips. And the feature, the one feature to dominate seventy five percent of my face is my cheeks. I have really large cheeks. Or cheek bones, but lots of skin there too. I get mixed reactions to this. Some say I look unapproachable and ‘tough’. Some say I look like a young girl, about fourteen. It always changes, and baffles/confuses me, so I’ve given up deciding which kind of person I was perceived as to the general public. 

There are other features to me, like my extra dry skin, or duck-feet (wide, large Hobbit feet—I say Hobbit, because though they are pretty big for my size, I am no taller then five feet), or my frizzy, scratchy-to-the-touch hair, but I rather not go into that. You get the gist of it. NO ONE is convincing me from a Dove commercial that I’m a ‘worth it’, because NO ONE from those commercials look like me.

I’ve had experiences to lift me up, and to bring me down. I’ve had countless women gush about how beautiful I was, but have also had countless young men slide there eyes over my head and onto my sister or mother, or flat out just say it, “You’d be so pretty if you lost X amount of weight....and if you took out your dreadlocks....and if you didn’t wear those boots that made your legs looks so short, and if you....”

            So I had to learn myself. And what does learning require?

            I stopped wistfully looking into those magazine ads, and started surfing the web, for women who looked like me. They were hidden, like rare gems, but with enough work, enough digging, I found them. Those women who looked like me. And you know....
            They were happy with themselves.

            I also noticed another thing. While they were beautiful, I focused more on the way their eyes lit up when they talked about music/books/clothes/television/their beautiful lives in general. Or the way they laughed, which was infectious, and made me laugh too. Or the way they just carried themselves. With a confidence you couldn’t buy, you had to earn. And these women weren’t ever going to be put in a Dove commercial or magazine cover/ad. Like, ever. And it didn’t matter.

They were loved. By men. By women. By children. 
But more importantly, by themselves.

And it showed. They say that you’re your own worst critic. Beating yourself up, torturing yourself because you don’t look or even closely resemble ‘that perfect girl’ is going to show in your countenance over the years. I don’t know how many times it’s been said to me—every women I come across has said this to me—“no one is going to love you if you don’t start with loving yourself.”

Like my sash? 
            When you whisper those things in the mirror, or when you hear those things in your mind, think to yourself, honestly, would you say that to another girl who resembled you? Would you say that to a younger version of you? I don’t think I’d have the guts to look at twelve-year-old Niagra, in all her flushed-face, frizzy-haired, pink polka-dot converse-shoed glory and say, “You’re ugly, you’re fat, and no one will ever want you.” Young women/women expect to be treated kindly and gently, to be forgiven of our second helpings, or the fact that our legs are not as long as the super model on the bill board you pass everyday to work. How can we expect anybody to treat us kindly, with love and adoration, if we can’t show these emotions for ourselves? How can we expect anyone to love us if we’re chastising ourselves for eating too much sweets on a cheat day? It’s a double standard. It’s wrong. And just plain, unfair!

            Through my research (using the term ‘research’ loosely, it was mostly just surfing through videos on Youtube), I have come to the conclusion that the laws of attraction are not the same for everybody, and almost always never using physical attraction as the center rule. I thought about the things that made me attractive and/or attracted to other people. I liked listeners, people with a talent for not saying much but always being attentive. I liked people who liked books. 
And I liked people who weren’t afraid to show who they were to other people. 

Things that people have said they liked about me: they liked my voice, although for a long time I hated it. They liked my rough hair and the beads in it. This one girl said my hair seemed to make a bold statement. They liked my many expressions, and how I couldn’t make a poker face, because my cheeks were so big and always gave it away. Things that I overlooked or despised, people liked, some even adored, and these combinations of silly things made me stand out from the seven billion people in the world. 

And in time, I learned to love these character traits I attained too. 

          We've got this long mirror hanging over our closet that's directed towards my bed, so every time I wake up--boom!--right in my face is my....face. I asked my sister if we could take it down because I don't really like looking at myself ever morning and night. Anyways, so I was typing (when am I not?), and I leaned over to grab a sheet with some notes, and I caught myself in the mirror. 
I'm in my pajamas. It's 5:56 in the morning. I haven't even brushed my teeth or wash my face yet; but as I ran my hands a couple times through my hair and touched my face, I realized something. I may not be 'the prettiest flower in the garden' or the 'the brightest crayon in the box' and I may be 'two sandwich short of a picnic' (you like my phrases), but all in all.... I wouldn't change a single thing about me. 

            Not. A single. Thing. 


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