Day 21: Purple Heart

 

image

Picture by: Craig Lapsley of The Untapped Source

There’s a dark purple plant that I was obsessed with as a child. It used to grow in the quad area of the college we lived in (and where my father was a lecturer). Other plants also grew there-colorful ones-but there was something about this particular plant. I would sit near the flowerbed and run my fingers along the stems and leaves. I couldn’t stop touching them. The texture was fascinating.

Purple is a powerful colour. I wear it on my nails.

Self Portrait

Another one by Bessie Head

Idealist,

And low down,

Apathetic

Indifferent earth worm;

Plunging, leaping,

Flickering, wavering,

Stammering, hesitating,

Bold, reckless, impatient;

Static, placid,

Of no certain direction;

Isolated, like driftwood

On the tossing, heaving ocean –

Flung to the top of a high-sounding,

Dazzling wave

Engulfed in the anonymous depths;

Oh Contradiction!

THAT IS I

free

Turning Thirty: Beauty Part 2

“So, if ever you feel less of yourself. I understand. If you ever feel self-hatred for yourself. I understand. If ever you feel low, dark, unappreciated, then know that I understand…for I have been there, walked barefooted and burning under the auspices of humiliation and almost-to-death attitude until I decided to live…”  -My dear friend, Bandy Mkhize

***

Beauty.

1) A concept or belief/Vague awareness or understanding/An impulse or desire/A combination of qualities that delights the aesthetic senses
2) The quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).

 ***

Beauty came to me late. Or rather I took it seriously pretty late in life. Partly because I only really realised I was pretty in my 20s and also because I grew up believing beauty was something that other people had. I wasn’t the pretty daughter so I figured I would just focus on other things, since I couldn’t change my looks. So I focused on my love for books and writing as well as working with my hands. (Side note: I also used to collect keys, had an obsession with insects and snakes and briefly had a pet chicken. Don’t ask.) It was one of the few creative things I was allowed to do. That and choosing what hairstyle to have next. (Hair texture had to be straight though.)

 
I became even more anti-beauty in my early teens because beauty was strongly tied to attracting boys. And I hated boys at that time. I found them immature and annoying. So I didn’t get why girls were putting in so much effort into looking good for idiots. Basically. Then there were the whole oh-but-you’re-so-pretty-and-have-a-nice-body-you-should-wear-clothes-that-accentuate-your-figure moments. Such an annoyance. I was highly self-conscious. I hated attention. I still do. Beauty drew attention so I didn’t want it. So I would brush off any compliment I got about my looks or my body.

 
Until I found beauty in my creativity.

 
Beauty became about self-expression as opposed to just adorning myself to attract a potential significant other. It became a way for me to express myself. It became creativity and came from within as well as from the outside. It also plays an important part of my relationship with my mom. It’s how we bond. (I gave her advice on her hair when she had to cut it off and ‘go natural’).

 
I found my first grey hair on the week of my birthday. And I freaked out because who starts greying in their twenties, right? I didn’t pull it out or anything. But I’ve dyed my hair twice since then so I probably wouldn’t be able to find it if I tried. All in all, I truly believe (and know) that the older I get, the more beautiful I become. And this applies to everyone as well. Anyone who is truly comfortable in their own skin and is able to fully be themselves is beautiful to me. Because if they believe it whole-heartedly, I have no choice but to also see it and believe it.

 
To quote Bandy once again,

“Beauty? Why don’t you go to the mirror right now and point, talking with the same passions you place on meaningless things and say “You are friggin’ awesome!” And smile. I mean what else shows more of your soul than your smile?”

beauty over coffee

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?