Turning Thirty: Beauty Part 1

Written on: 19 August 2013 for Beauty Bulletin

Today, someone on Facebook posted this question:

“Is a weave, make-up, colouring your hair always a reflection of self-hate or an adoption of a foreign identity?”

I sighed deeply and thought all kinds of thoughts before I commented: “I’d have to write a whole article to answer this question properly. But the simple answer is no.” Like most (if not all) black women, I’m sick to death of my body (and hair) being used to reflect or push some racial/cultural/political/socio-economic issue. That everyday when I wake up in the morning, get dressed and adorn myself as I see fit, I’m somehow trying to prove a point or…trying to be revolutionary. That my individual expression is automatically up for scrutiny because it’s not the norm/standard or because people are fascinated and curious. Why is black women’s beauty being prodded and dissected? Why are we “separate but equal”? Why is our beauty treated as something exotic? Why?

 

 

Age to Age

Originally posted on joberry4:

Growing older is so strange.

It’s not as if you lose all the previous versions of yourself – you just become more crowded as you go along.

The 4-year-old who thought that warm scones with jam and cream were perfect heaven still waits vigilantly on the eve of every birthday wondering what presents tomorrow’ll bring.

The 9-year-old in me still walks down the corridors of my mind in the wrong school uniform, shoulders hunched over as she tries to make herself invisible.

The 12-year-old in me is still in there, feeling that getting undressed in front of strangers will actually kill her.

The 14-year-old debater in still on her mental soapbox haranguing the crowd, and the 15-year-old is still sneaking out for a smoke.

The 16-year-old in me is noticing the moodily-beautiful student on the seat across from her on the train, and thinking “if this was another time, we’d…

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Turning Thirty: Intro Part 2

If someone had told me at 19 that this is where I would be ten years later, I would have laughed. By that, I mean ‘living’ (of off one bag) between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, working part-time as a tutor while studying full-time with half of my things at home and in storage, in a long distance relationship and STILL not earning an income from my writing. But honestly, I’m fucking happy with my life. I panic sometimes because I feel like I’m not working hard and/or smart enough towards my success. There’re still so much I need to do. My family isn’t particularly happy about my life. Mainly because they don’t understand it. But I’m learning everyday how to not let this bother me.

I had the idea a few months back of doing a few Turning Thirty posts. Look, I don’t necessarily think that age is all that hectic. It’s just a reference point if anything. A rough guideline, if you will. And honestly I didn’t think 30 would be a pivotal age for me. But it turned out to be so I’ve gotta make sense of this growth spurt so I can move on to the next level in my journey. I’ve been scared of writing these Turning Thirty blogposts. Or even just writing in general. I had been feeling very fragile these last few months so I didn’t want to put myself out there because I wouldn’t be able to handle the ‘backlash’. Of course, not all comments to my writing are negative, but the negative ones really hurt. And so I wanted to wait until I was feeling a bit stronger to start writing again.

When I started writing about being in my 20s and growing up, I was frustrated. I was tired of hearing people dissing the 20s and referring to it as the time of cluelessness, naïveté, lack of self knowledge/ awareness and (retrospectively) a time of regret. I wanted to argue otherwise. It is often difficult to be introspective and go through the process of getting to know yourself when they are expectations. People in their 20s are expected to fulfil a lot of things. You have to be highly successful, earn a lot of money, support your younger siblings and/or parents. Just generally prove to your parents/guardians or whoever that your life is worth telling others about. It’s more about results and less about the process. Some get to travel and be supported in that. Others travel anyway despite any lack of support and so forth. I’m generalising of course. People are different.

So each week, I will be choosing a theme and reflecting on it. This is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all tips and tricks of the trade sorta thing. I believe people need to figure their own things out in their own time. And if sharing my thoughts can somehow help with that then cool. If not, then also cool.

Till the next post.

Cheers

Turning Thirty: Intro

 

“It gets dark and a shiver moves across my skin.
There are stars, but the cloudy skies won’t let them in.
I’m gonna write a few words and I hope they carry all this way,
Back to the start of this girl,when she still had something good to say.

Seventeen,
And you know exactly what you need.
Twenty-two,
And they still see something great in you.
But no one tells you a word about the lonely echo in your heart when it’s been filled up with hurt.
And your whole world starts to come apart.

They rest in peace [won't ever come back] all the stories I was told.
I had a dream, it’s fading to black.
Just like me it’s growing old.
So rest in peace. There is no comeback,
I will never have or hold.
Now hear me screaming from the pitch-black that this world is not a home

Say goodbye.
That’s the only word you’ll ever need.
When you try, it gets so much harder to succeed.
If I had nothing to lose, I would surely lose it in the end.
And you know if I could choose, I would never do it all again.

They rest in peace [won't ever comeback] all the stories I was told.
I had a dream, it’s fading to black.
Just like me it’s growing old.
So rest in peace, there is no comeback,
I will never have or hold.
Now hear me screaming from the pitch-black,
That this world is not a home.”

R.I.P by September

Tutoring…

“Funnily enough, as drenched as I am [from the rain] and as sad as I feel (because mornings are generally rough) I have never felt more relieved to not be at home. I feel so so sad. But I have to block that out so I can teach…*sigh* Not so fun being on the other side, is it?” 

When I wrote the quote above that day [sometime last year], I had just been rained on and I was drying off in a random corridor on campus. I was pissed off because I had decided at the last minute to not wear my gumboots and my raincoat. I really believed it wouldn’t rain despite the grey clouds I saw in the sky. [It poured five minutes after I left the house.] And I’m not a morning person, as already stated, so it was doubly rough. But I couldn’t back out. I had to teach It was my job. I was getting paid for it. So I put my feelings aside and taught. And felt happy afterwards….and again the next week and the week after that.

I kinda knew that the day would come where I would have to tutor/teach a class. I just didn’t believe it actually would. [Some background as to why: I was repeatedly told that I would make a sucky teacher because I have zero patience (true) and I don't like repeating myself when I talk (also true). One day I believed it and it stuck....until now.] So the day came when I had to tutor my first class ever in my life. And I was nervous. I had a meltdown the night before. I re-read the instructions for the class I dunno how many times. I prepped adequately and it still didn’t feel like enough. I thought of every situation that could go wrong and came up with as many solutions to the problems as possible. I was convinced that I’d fuck up…completely. One thing that I did right was arrive an hour early. Because I spent that entire hour tryina find the venue….which I did eventually. My first class was awkward. I was nervous, but I hid it well. And in my nervousness, I somehow strangely felt at home. Teaching came naturally to me. I never thought that it would. The more tutorials I took, the more I enjoyed it….even if the content was a bit boring at times.

Until I had a bad day…

Which was today. (To be continued.)