I wake up on a lazy Friday prepared to “work from home” like so many others as we take caution of the new strain of Coronavirus. I look in the mirror and take down my hair. It’s tied up in a scarf, like usual, but today it is straight. It’s day 4 of my blowout and I’m impressed that it’s managing so well, especially when I styled it myself. I look at my skin and realize that it’s time to exfoliate — it’s been a while. I am glad, however, that I don’t have any easily visible blemishes. My skin, which is now clear, was once a point of frustration for me. The hyperpigmentation is finally almost gone. I look at my eyebrows, I wish they were fuller. I vow to myself to let them grow out as long as possible before shaping them again. Maybe I can wait until June? I brush my teeth. Ugh, I have this one crooked tooth. Why would my parents give an 8 year old braces? So of course I lost my retainer when I was 12. I’ll get Smile Direct or another teeth-straightening service as soon as I can afford it. I lift up my shirt for a belly check. It’s not quite as flat as it used to be. I see my curves, but I don’t meet them with disappointment. I’m carrying a few more pounds than I would like to but it's been a relaxed week full of pasta and wine and I’ve learned to give myself grace. Still, I open up my ClassPass app and schedule a cycling class.
For the first time in a while, I am notating my thoughts as I look in the mirror and I recognize that I meet myself with quite the critical eye. I genuinely do love who I am inside and out, and I’ve learned to have confidence in my own skin — but not without a harsh inventory of my physical presence compared to the one I’ve idealized in my mind. I can’t help but feel that my looks are somehow a direct representation of how well I’m doing in life. When I gaze in the mirror, I either congratulate myself for a week well spent at the gym or I feel regret for that second quesadilla.
I would never meet another woman and immediately criticize her skin, her weight, her hair or her teeth, so why do I meet myself with such unrealistic expectations? When I see another woman, I am certain that I notice her beauty first. I think of my lovely friends — take Alisa Norris for an example. I see her and I notice how she takes up space so gracefully. She’s had quite the journey, but she always greets you with an uplifted spirit. Her short haircut is growing out and she even looks beautiful in the in-between stage! Like, who else can claim that? Her skin always looks like she meets her daily water requirement and I’ve never seen a bad photo of her. I see her for outer beauty, but it is only brought to life by the beauty she brings from the inside.
I wonder if I can challenge myself to start seeing what I love about myself first. To find my own “flaws” and unique qualities alluring, rather than something to change. In spite of my criticism, I am much more accepting of myself than I used to be. Now standing at almost 5’11” tall, I was always the tall girl at school and this was probably the beginning of trying to shrink myself. All of my childhood friends were slim and petite, and like so many us at a young age, I just wanted to blend in with my friends. Today, my height is something that I love about myself and I am no longer on a mission to shrink. Everyday I face the world proud of myself in and out, because I’ve taken care of myself spiritually, emotionally and physically. The challenge is to face myself with the same strength.
If I were to look at myself with the eyes of a stranger, I might notice that I have nice full lips and pretty almond shaped eyes. I have a beautiful smile in spite of the one tooth that insists on misbehaving, and my posture and eye contact suggest a warm confidence that invites others near me. Whether curly or straight, my hair tells a story of my ancestry and I love the way it frames my face and has a mind of its own. Even when I’m carrying an extra 5 pounds, they honestly look pretty good on me and I’m grateful for a body that is healthy and thriving. I know that my self-gaze will always come with high expectations that both motivate and distract me, but I will do myself a favor in the future and try to hype myself up like I would a dear friend. “Sis, you are a work of art.”
Kindra Moné is a writer and communications professional from South Carolina. Currently residing in Harlem, NY, Kindra is the founder of theStylingSOUL.com, and enjoys using her platform to bridge the gap between style and wellness.
Sunday Style is a New York City based digital publication on personal style.