Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty has always been endearing to me. I remember the last time I was in the UK (which was FAR TOO LONG ago) I saw this ad on the side of a double decker bus:
That said, Dove's latest commercial brought me to tears. If you haven't seen it, take 3 minutes and watch the video above. It's amazing. Part of the reason that I was so moved by what I saw is because I recently had an epiphany that was 30+ years in the making.
My dad used to say, "If you wish in one hand and crap in the other, which one is going to fill up fastest?" Yep...that's my dad. While I understood what he was trying to tell me, I was still irritated whenever he said it. But a few weeks ago I really began to understand the point he was trying to make, and in this case I thought about it in relation to my looks.
I have spent far too many years lamenting the things I didn't have. I always wished I had hair like Chilli from TLC. I always wanted smaller calves. I always wanted to be taller. And I always wished like hell to be Aaliyah "Are You That Somebody" thin. But the reality is that my hair is so fine that when it's straightened I've been asked on more than one occasion what my nationality is....umm...black, y'all...just black. As far as I know, there's nothing out there that will thicken up hair. And I could run, swim and do HIIT until the cows come how and I'm still not going to have little calves. Thick legs run in my family and I will deal. I have a closet full of 4 inch heels so there's the taller thing. But even if I starved myself I will never, ever, EVER have Aaliyah's body type. (I did one of those body mass/fat calculation things at the gym. They essentially told me even if I had ZERO body fat I would still weigh around 145-150. At 5'9" petite ain't nowhere in my future.)
But even with knowing the realities about my hair, weight and everything else, I would still find myself wishing I had hair like this or that girl; wishing my legs were longer and thinner. Wishing my abs were flatter. Wishing. Coveting. Sometimes even hating.
And then one day, a few weeks ago, I just woke up. I literally opened my eyes and realized that I had the power to set myself free. I realized that I'm unique and what I have is AMAZING. I know it sounds corny but when you truly catch the revelation it is so freeing.
Do I all of a sudden have an inflated sense of self? Absolutely not. But am I learning to appreciate what makes me and my looks uniquely me. Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!!
I say learning because it is a process. Almost every day I have to stop myself from looking envyingly at some girl at the gym who has perfectly sculpted, small calves or some girl in the store who has a beautiful mound of thick wavy hair piled up on her head. When I catch myself gazing at some other girl's 5'11"stature and as my mind readies itself to think the words that for years have tortured me, "I wish..." I literally stop myself in mid-thought and say, "NO!!" I have to constantly remind myself that the reality is that what I've got is what I'm always going to have. And it's not bad. In fact, it's damn good.
I may not have perfect calves but my legs are strong. I may not ever be able to craft a respectable bun of my hair without the help of extensions and/or weave but my hair is healthy and it colors magnificently. What I'm trying to say is every day I have to remind myself that I am truly beautiful and made in the image of God. And NOT in the image of television shows, supermodels or anything else that purports to define beauty.
So as I sit here at the ripe old age of 30ish, I'm finally starting to understand what MY beautiful truly looks like. I'm frankly pretty stoked about it. The freedom to love me is more liberating than I ever imagined. Who'd have thunk it?
Stay Beautiful BGLU!!!