Sunday, March 26, 2006

Toya's Menstrual Musings

Sorry fellas...
The older you get, the more your menstrual cycles change. There are certain things that aren't as bad every month as they used to be. I remember being on my period in high school and lying across the desk in Trig class, wishing someone would come along and cut off the lower half of my body and keep it on ice for the next five days. I don't have cramps nearly that bad anymore. However, now I have different types of cramps. Cause that's what women need: a variety of cramps. Honestly, Eve, what were you thinking?

Today, my head feels too heavy for my body, I have nausea and cramps that feel as if small children are playing Tug of War with my Fallopian tubes. I left church early today because I was just entirely too dizzy to focus on anything and did not want to have to deal with the Nashville after-church traffic that ensues every Sunday. It's bad enough that my road rage on a good day is enough to make one wonder if I attend church at all.

So since I have slept more than enough today and am too queasy to be vertical, I was excited that I can finally take the time to blog some things. So with Erykah Badu's "Mama's Gun" in the back ground (genius), here I go:

Not A Girl, Not Yet a Woman
I share a lot of personal things on this blog and what I am about to share may be the most personal yet.

I am 31 years old and I can honestly say that I feel very awkward referring to myself as a woman. I think this may be because when I think of a woman, there is a a certain type of standard, both physical and mental, that I don't feel I meet. I am not saying that I am not a lady. I've been a lady since I was about 14 years old. But when I think of a woman, there is an image that comes to mind that to me looks nothing like me.

Most people are shocked by my age. I am shocked by my age. When people try to guess my age they usually guess somewhere between 22-25. My brother and I were talking about my struggles with body image and me not feeling womanly and he said "When you are 50, you are going to appreciate the fact that you look about 30". That may be so. But right now, at 31, I sometimes wish that I looked my age.

At 5'2, I am fairly small. I don't look anywhere close to what I actually weigh and for the most part, I do not fit the description of what sistas are "supposed" to look like. I am not very curvy or busty and to top it off, well I am not exactly "bootylicious" either. Being as though the media has depicted that a black woman's worth rest mostly in the size and roundness of her derriere, it's always been very hard for me to accept the way I was created. For instance, Tia and I were watching the new Busta Rhymes video and I loved the video until they had a woman with one of the biggest behinds I have ever seen slithering with her back turned to the camera. I looked at Tia and said "Who says 'You know what's missing from this video? A woman with a big ass. Who can we call?'" To have this constantly thrown in your face that being shaped a certain way is the standard for what the real black woman looks like is hard to live with at times if you don't meet that standard. I don't care how many compliments I get for being a "cute girl" or "adorable" or "precious". These are names that are often used to describe puppies, not women. These are names I often hear describing me.

It's not just my physical attributes that make me uneasy in referring to myself as a woman. There are some mental ones too. There are times when I want to take off my shoes and run as fast as I can in the church parking lot. There are times when I want to climb things. There are times that I have heard Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" in the mall and have wanted to tip toe pass the security cameras like a ballerina. There are times when I have actually done so. When most comfortable, there are times when I sit Indian style be it at my desk at work or in a restaurant, after taking off my high fashioned boots to reveal my tacky taste in white gym socks. There are times when I am walking down the street and I stop to swing on the light posts in broad daylight. There are times when my excitement about the fact that they bring out Easter candy right after Valentine's Day can rival any 8 year old's. There are times when I love these things about myself because it means I am feeling free to be me. However, there are times when I am ashamed of these things about myself because they ARE me. Sometimes, I wonder when I am going to grow up. Sometimes, I wonder if I even can.

The reality is beauty is in the eye of the GREAT beholder, God. God did not "jip" me. God's perception of beauty differs greatly from man's. Where I look in the mirror and say "Ugh" God looks at it and says "It is good". Now more than ever, I realize that not looking my age and sometimes not acting my age is all a part of God's great plan to be a role model to a younger generation. If I was actually the age I looked, I would not be mature enough for the responsibilities that He has recently given me. So for that, I praise God. I do feel at times that some older women look at me and think "Does SHE know how old she is?" but I do know for a fact that the freedom I feel to just be myself has set others free to do so as well whether they be younger or older than I am.

Recently, I was ministered to by an amazingly Godly, beautiful and profoundly wise woman. She sat with me and challenged me to love myself. Now at first, that didn't sound difficult because I thought I was crazy about myself. But in listening I found that I truly was not loving and accepting myself as God would want me to. She pointed out that in the bible, it instructs us to "Love our neighbor as ourselves". As women, we look at this backwards. We think by loving others while neglecting ourselves is the way to live. It is not. The love that God has put inside of us is for us FIRST. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Sounds downright blasphemous and contradictory and selfish at first doesn't it? But it's true. The reason why so many of us stay feeling lonely, the reason why so many of us are spent, the reason why we ache so much to be adored by a man, the reason why so many of us give 100% to relationships that render no reciprocity is because we are not loving ourselves first. I am willing to bet that there are hundreds of women in leadership that suffer great depression and have even considered suicide because they pour so much into others without ever allowing any of that love they pour out to be for themselves first.

With that being said, I declare right now, Sunday March 26, 2006 at 6:27 pm, I AM A WOMAN. Whether my hair is in afro puffs (I won't be doing that past the age of 33, I promise), whether I am in a band t-shirt and low rise jeans, and whether I hit 32 and still don't feel like I have yet to make it on the other side of puberty, I am a woman. I don't care if I have to wake up every morning to India Arie's "Video", Erykah Badu's "Clever" or Chaka's "I"m Every Woman" to reiterate what I am sure cannot simply be achieved by a declaration but by an every day process, I will here on out boldly say that I am a woman. We aren't changing the name of the website though. It's paid for.

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