The gold framed mirror in my bathroom reminds me of the mirror in Snow White. Here am I standing right in front of it and doing what the Evil Queen did in the enchanting story, “mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest in the land?” My question is different though, it is;
“Am I beautiful enough, mirror?”
On good days I find an answer, I say to myself; ‘yes I am beautiful’, on bad days I just keep looking at my reflection in the mirror searching for a beautiful feature on my face.
I remember when my face started breaking out, I was in Primary 4 when the first pimple appeared then the next one and soon I had a face full of these pesky tiny boil like things on my face. I made the mistake of pinching them off and that has left me with tiny dark scars.
Maami noticed I was disturbed by the pimples, she said to me ‘’you look pretty this phase would pass’’
Fast-forward to my first year in secondary school. My English teacher gave an assignment to differentiate between pretty, cute and beautiful. The boys decided to make the assignment practical by classifying the girls into the various categories. The girls got wind of it and put a stop to it.
One Tuesday evening the girls sat in a circle and decided to pick up where the boys left off; ‘power to the women’ you would think. We went round the circle labelling ourselves and when it got to my turn one of the girls said that she couldn’t call me pretty, cute or beautiful that the pimples on my face made it hard for her to determine where I fit.
I was deflated.
That holiday I asked Maami what she thought of me. If I was pretty, cute or beautiful. She said I was her perfect daughter made for greatness that I didn’t have to worry about that.
In my second year, the head of the English department called me and asked how many times I wash my face that I should do it more often that it would help with the pimples.
By my third year, I hated going out with my mum. Almost all the women we met has some cure to suggest. I was taking blood purifiers, vitamin supplements and using very expensive special soaps and oils on my face. The drugs I hated, the oils and soaps smelt really nice.
One Friday evening, I had just taken out my hair used one band on it so it could have the appearance of an afro, this look was easy for me, my hair is natural. I looked at myself again in the hostel mirror I decided I looked pretty. I walked into my room to drop my combs and my roommate said to me if she had such pimples on her face she wouldn’t go out. ”I will sit at home till it all cleared.” she finished.
In my fourth year, I made the executive decision to stop taking all the drugs and using the soaps and oils; I really didn’t care anymore.
A boy had a crush on me and wrote me a note. I didn’t believe in the words he wrote because when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see those things.
At some point in all these I lost my smile.
One Friday evening in my fifth year, I just worked on my afro look and I was walking towards my classmates who were seated in a group talking loudly; one of them shouted ”Ore you look pretty” my smile broadened when I got close up she added ”I think you look pretty only from afar”
By my sixth and final year in secondary school, the pimples where gradually fading and in its place where tiny black scares.
I didn’t have the first idea about makeup let alone brown power. So I went through university with many people trying to convince me of its importance and why I needed to wear it.
I cared less about it. I was on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance and I had come to love and accept myself. I was no longer crying about horrible comments and suggestions that didn’t come off the right way.
After university I bought my first compact brown powder and I told myself it was never going to become an everyday affair and I was going to use it moderately.
The band wagon of why foundation cream is important and lining my eyes would make my eyes pop and my teeth shine soon followed.
I wasn’t buying it. I am happy with whom I am and my life choices, I have scaled many hurdles to get to this point of self-acceptance and self-love and I wasn’t going to be talked into doing anything I am not comfortable with.
We are planning my friend’s wedding, at one of our meetings I told them I would only wear makeup I feel comfortable with and I wanted to look and feel like myself at the wedding. The bride keeps telling me she is worried about my face.
Constantly talking about this gave room to my old demons and I began to question myself and ask if I am pretty, beautiful or cute.
I went home after our meeting agitated and went straight to the gold frame mirror in my bathroom, I forgot to lock the bathroom door, Maami noticed I was talking to the mirror and leaned on the door frame, I turned and asked her if I am pretty, beautiful or cute and she smiled and hugged me.
Since that night I stopped asking the gold frame mirror any questions, I just wake up in the morning and tell myself that I would be the most beautiful version of myself for that day.