I’m So Self Conscious….
I remember being in high school bobbing my head to the sound of Kanye’s “All Falls Down,” as I completed my household chores, or as I sat on a bus headed to a track meet, band competition or football game. I remember the video too, I mean it was pretty simple. You have Stacey Dash’s big ol’ booty bouncing in that pink dress as she rushes through the airport to catch a flight. It’s funny that I’ve seen that video and heard that song I don’t know how many times, but it was just recently that those lyrics hit home.
In high school, I’d be the first to admit that I was so self conscious. I mean, when you’re a thin black girl who is repeatedly told that you’re too skinny by literally everyone, what do you expect? No big deal, right? There are a ton of people out there who would love to be my size, right? True, but there are also a ton of people out there who make a spectacle when I dare to get a second helping of macaroni and cheese because I can’t possibly crave food or eat more than an “average person’ since I have no meat on my bones. There are a ton of people out there who question my ethnicity because I don’t have the curves that most of my southern sistas possess. There are a ton of people out there who question my health, because someone my size has to be struggling with anorexia or something. There are also a ton of my thicky-thick sistas and brothers out there who put me down to feel good about their weight insecurity, and blah, blah, blah.
So, yeah, I was so self conscious; not just in high school, but probably in elementary school, middle high and through college. In my post college life, I got over it, at least I thought I did. No, I’m not still self conscious with my weight, at least I don’t think I am, but it seems like something else took over. Something that I was not aware of until…
I was hired to make an appearance at this local dress shop, Ferri Formals in Schenectady, NY to basically help pub for their dress sale. All I was there to do, was check out the place, talk up the deals and fashions on the radio, and leave. Well, the owner, asked me to try on some dresses, so I thought sure why not. It was fun! I pranced around in these beautiful gowns, snap chatted about them, talked about the experience on air, and that was that. The owner then asked if she could take some pictures of me, so I say, sure why not. That’s pretty typical. Clients typically want pics for their social media, so we go to take the pictures, and there’s a professional photographer there setting up lights etc., and my heart literally stopped beating. I panic.
Why am I panicking? These are just pictures for Facebook, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that I just have on everyday make up, ladies, you know, brows, mascara, a little eye liner and some lip gloss. This NOT the sort of makeup job you have when doing anything on camera, not to mention that this makeup job isn’t even my best work since I was rushing when I slapped it on in my car minutes prior to the event. The big deal is that my hair is not even freshly twisted, bantu knotted or curled – I’m a ball of frizz. Now all this sounds frivolous and silly, but when working in media, appearance and image is everything! Think about it, how many busted female news reporters, TV personalities, etc have you seen? What thoughts run through your head when you see people on TV who have jacked up makeup hair, clothes etc.? How are they treated on social media? Excuse me for not wanting to be the radio personality who has a “face for radio.” At the end of the day, I don’t want to be the popular radio personality who has all these hideous pictures plastered all over Albany.
I suck it up, and allow for the pictures to be taken, but again, my face is not beat to perfection and my hair is not laid for the gawds, so needless to say, I’m nervous to see the end result. The next day, photographer Evan Lauber sends me some of the shots. Not only that, but he even compliments me saying that I was a “natural beauty,” and that I was “very photogenic.” I think to myself, “this man is crazy, I looked a mess!” I’m hesitant in opening the attachment, but when I do, to my surprise, I look amazing! At that very moment I learned that I was so self conscious for no reason!
Why do we put this unnecessary pressure on ourselves to feel pretty? Why do we continually convince ourselves that we are not good enough? I mean, even Drake told us that “sweat pants, hair tied chillin’ with no makeup on,” is when we’re prettiest, but we constantly choose not to believe him.
So, yes, I’m so self conscious, but this random life occurrence taught me that me, myself, and I is good enough without all the beauty enhancers. Actress, Tracee Ellis Ross once said,
“I wonder what it would be if each of us expanded our idea and our definition of what beauty is. […] I think the hope and the goal is that each of us find it within.”
I’m not there yet, but I’m excited to now be making progress.