I’m not sure when it started. It had to be immediately after my mom transferred me to a predominantly Caucasian school and submerged me into a sea of slim noses, straight long hair, and fair skin tones. Perhaps it was when the middle school boys referred to the bags under my eyes as suitcases. Or maybe it was when my first middle school boyfriend agreed to date me only because my friends pressured him into our short-lived relationship. I cannot recall the date when my eyes aimed for the ground as a means to avoid seeing everyone’s twisted facial expressions as they examined my wide nose, unmanageable tresses, and bumpy skin. I don’t know when I ditched all of the cool clothes my mom purchased for me for baggy sweatpants and oversized sweatshirts that hid my misshapen figure. I have always been the funny girl but I am not sure when my jokes became a means to distract my companions from gawking at a face that tormented me every time I looked in the mirror. Eventually, I started avoiding mirrors. What frustrates me more than not knowing when my self confidence dropped to an all time low, is not knowing when it will get better.
With the emergence of movements like natural hair and #blackgirlmagic, there has been a positive shift in the black community where black men and women are starting to embrace our exaggerated features and one another. For a short time, that shift had an impact on me. I chopped off all of my relaxed hair, ripped the tags off of unworn clothes, and raised my head just a tad bit higher than usual. I presumed that my new look and confidence boost would provide me with an active dating life as I have never been in a serious relationship or even approached by a guy. The guys only came around when I told a joke. My jokes continued to protect me from being the actual joke. When the laughs subsided I found myself resenting my male counterparts for not extending our relationship past a comedy routine prepared and performed by yours truly.
Every day is different. Every hour is different. Sometimes when I first wake up and stare at myself with drool stains around my mouth and untamed hair I am actually quite pleased with my appearance. When I return to the mirror an hour or so later after a hot shower I frown at what I see looking back at me. It is as if I am seeing things clearly. The bags under my eyes are more profound. My nose is much bigger than before. My skin is uneven. Over the years, I’ve learned that I can’t rely on my mirrors to show me a beautiful girl. I only refer to them to make sure I look presentable for the day. I spend the rest of the day looking at the ground.