What inspired you to be apart of our "I Am Beautiful" sessions?
I struggled with self-esteem because at a young age I was constantly being told that I was not beautiful based on images that were portayed in the media and in the community. I still remember being told that you were not beautiful because the texture of your hair, the color of your skin, the size of your lips or the big luscious curves in your butt and hips. I learned at a young age that, i must view myself as well-loved and attractive person. The more, I believed in me the less fundamental issues I began to have in the world. It was amazing, because in my head I had formulated the 10/90 rule. I began to realize that 10 percent of visual beauty and 90 percent of inner beauty. I felt like being a part of this series would allow me to help women regain their beauty.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you feel are your favorite features?
I love my smile.
What are/were your insecurities about yourself? Currently or in the past when you were younger.
My lips, hips and big butt.
How have/are you overcoming these insecurities?
I began to tap into my inner beauty, during this time, I began public speaking, leadership roles in the school and the community. I just knew life was on the uprise and I was headed for success.
Tell us your story. Tell us about you.What made you into the women you are today?
I was parched on this old rustic chair, gazing out the window as I began to write my journey. The wind was blowing and the leaves were falling off the tree. I noticed that as the wind blew the leaves fell off the tree, flew away, others hit the ground and some were crushed as people walked by. I had a pen in my hand and a notepad in my lap. As I watched my eyes began to fill up with water and slowly the tears began to fall. The tears fell one by one, some of them fell on my cheek, others on my lip and some on my blouse. I though to myself, what are you crying for? I knew the images of the leaves falling off the tree couldn't be a direct correlation of the tears I began to shed. In the brief moment, my mind took me to a place similar to what I had just observed. I realized that at one point in my life I was like a leaf on the tree. I realized that growing up your parents are like the bark of the tree your foundation. I had some great parents to guide, raise me and support my dreams. I realized that my trial and tribulations were like the branch of the tree. Over the years, I have met people, networked, and grew branches on relationships in my life. In the last moment, after a deep breathe, my life was like the leaves; things had come and gone, memories had fallen off, friends and loved ones passed and dreams had been crushed along the way.In that exact moment, I was reliving my life experiences without putting my pen to the paper. One thing is certain even with all the changes in life it is how we perceive things that make the difference.
I was raised in a socially economically disadvantage area, filled with crime and drugs. At the age of three I was burnt on over 60 percent of my body with hot grease as a result of an incident in my parents kitchen. I knew at a young age that, I was a survivor. Everything that I faced, I would embrace with love, compassion and understanding. I struggled with self-esteem because at a young age I was constantly being told that I was not beautiful based on images that were portrayed in the media and in the community. I still remember being told that you were not beautiful because the texture of your hair, the color of your skin, the size of your lips or the big curves in your butt and hips. I learned at a young age that, I must view myself as well-loved and attractive person. The more, I believed in me the less fundamental issues I began to have in the world. It was amazing, because in my head I had formulated the 10/90 rule. I began to realize that 10 percent of visual beauty and 90 percent of inner beauty. I began to tap into my inner beauty, during this time, I began public speaking, leadership roles in the school and the community. I just knew life was on the up rise and I was headed for success. I had engulfed myself in college and started preparing for my career. I thought, I was ready but, truly had no ideal what was ahead. As I reflect, those were the good old days, the days that prepared me for what was to come.
It was only a few years after college that, I married the "man of my dream", I mean, this was a good looking fella; Six foot four tall, creamy chocolate, well- dressed, and smooth talking man. He was nine years my senior, we were taking trips all over the place and enjoying life. It was one year after my marriage that we had our first child and our first home and sixteen months later another baby on the way. I felt like, I was living the "American Dream,". It was not until 5 years later that I had my first internal experience with "failure" and "low self-esteem". It was eye opening because, all these years, I felt like I was a complete example of the "American Dream". My marriage began to fail, I began to really sink, worried about what others would think or say. I was often called by my closes friends praising me for the direction, I had taken in life. However, deep down inside I was struggling. I couldn't tell my friends and family that my self-esteem was in the dumps after giving birth to two children or that my marriage was failing rapidly. It was in this moment that I began to hide my insecurities. I was religious in the gym, I would not leave the house without being dressed up, every hair on my head in place, my makeup clogged my pores. It was the only way I knew how to mask and hide behind the hurt and pain. It was at this point in my life that not only was my self-esteem low but, I had devalued myself as a human.
After a failed marriage how would, I make it in the world? Would I still be accepted by my family, friends and church family? The questions haunted me everyday. I did not see any single mother's around as role models. I made a vow before GOD, I could not let him down. I was at my lowest point in my life. It hurt to look in the mirror, I had lost self respect for myself. I was afraid of my un beautiful truth and my emotional pain. I had lost sight of who I was and where I was headed. I had stopped loving me and began to torture myself internally. I was a photographer friend of mine named Leonard, he was once in a photography class, I had taken. He sent me a picture he had taken in the wood and on the tree I saw a message that read "forgive" and then in the corner in a rock, painted in red pain read "love". In that moment, I realized that those were two things that I had lost sight of. It was at that point that, I began to forgive myself and love again. I blamed myself for things that were not in my control; not my fault. I had stopped feeling beautiful inside and it affected who I was becoming on the outside. I lost my smile, I questioned my faith, and I struggled with restoring the inner me. I spent so much time looking at my scars and internally and externally that I killed the inner me. I lost sight of what beautiful was to me. It was in this exact moment that my life turned around. I began to focus of loving and forgiving myself.
My biggest advice is it's okay to take time to honor your scars and yourself. I was able to regain my self-esteem and see the beauty in me. When I saw the beauty in me I began to smile longer, laughed often and embraced the beauty in life. I took control of who I was and my self-esteem rose. I was no longer a victim of my circumstance or my differences in what the world perceived as beautiful. I had a beautiful heart, one that no matter who I crossed paths with embraced. It was in that moment, that I met my soul mate. He embraced everything about me; he laughed in moments of joy, we cried in moments of pain, and we rejoiced in everything. I mean we have been on this holy journey together; thanking God for everything. It is important to understand that without self love you cannot love another person. I learned that every stretch mark on your stomach is part of the journey, every wrinkle, every scratch, every internal scar shapes you into who God calls you to be. It is, without this journey that you can not look back and reflect on your past and how good it has been to you. Always remember that you are a beautiful unique person carved out and constructed just the way God wants you to be. There are a few quotes that have stuck with me, through the hard times
#1 " To establish true self-esteem we must concentrate on our successes and forget about the failures and negatives in our life" -Denis Waillty.
#2" Love yourself first and everything else will fall into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world."-Lucille Ball
Thank you for allowing me to take you on my journey. I can only hope, that someone reads this and regains, hope, self-worth, self-esteem and begins to look beyond the scars. We all are beautiful externally once you are internally beautiful.