Its a real bumpy ride when suffering from Depression, and having added pressure of not being able to fit in. Have you ever felt like; you're not, pretty enough, not cute enough, not skinny or thick enough? Ever wished you had perfect eyebrows, long lashes, strong hairline, flat stomach, slim waist, big bum, big breasts, six pack, 6 foot, all of the above? Up until year 9, i was bullied. And i could never understand the conflicting views of me. At home, my mum told me i was beautiful, my Aunts and uncles always 'aww'd at me. In school, i was ugly? Which one was the truth? I have always worn jogging bottoms and hooded jumpers. I have had Cornrolls or cainrows throughout my school life, with coloured extensions in primary school #cringes. I hated wearing shoes, and i still do! I have always been skinny, after i lost my baby fat. I have a small chest, and In school all the way up to university a small bum. I remember clearly one time in secondary school, a group of us girls were in a circle. A few boys came around the circle and squeezed every girls bum. As they went round they said, ''no bum, big bum, big bum, no bum'' and of course i was the only black girl they said ''no bum'' to. I quickly realized this was a negative thing. As the reaction the boys gave to the few who had a big bum seemed more (yes, i now realize that was sexual harassment, but at the time it was more secondary school embarrassment) In primary school we learn the adjective beautiful, then you use it to describe everything, the flowers are beautiful, Your hair is beautiful, my friend is beautiful. There are no levels to beauty, no weathered opinions of beauty. As a child, almost everything is beautiful. But between the growing up stages, the transition between innocence and adolescence, the difficult stage to handle, in terms of understanding beauty. Understanding where you fit in on the scale of good looks.
How do you define beauty?
Excerpt from a poem i wrote in 2013.
'what they don’t realize is their falling
all those years
they looked up and watched me hang from my coloured braids
while they taunted me.
What i didnt realise at the time
is they were beneath me,
and now i look down underneath me
and watch their destiny.
I watch their perfect skin start to encase in on them
smother what they thought they had better than me,
and as they become encapsulated in their skin that bursts through their veins
those veins stop carrying their blood
but now there vanity,
which turnt them ugly
they're just like me.'
...Yours truly Jackie.
One girl used to call me Manjackie. Everytime i crossed paths with her, she would say it at the top of her lungs. Making it known to everybody around she was calling me. It made me feel uncomfortable, but i never told her. In hindsight i realised i should have said something . But instead i froze, every time. I saw her in Tesco a few weeks ago. And she shouted Manjackie, but at 26years old, I thought was this the right time to confront her. I still chose not to, and just ignored her. But inside i felt the same burn I did almost 12 years ago. The same embarrassment i had been subjected. In my school they used to call me a man, a boy even a monkey. Those and many other nouns helped me cower deeper and deeper into my shell, i hunched my back and kept my head down. And sort of conformed to what they called me. I cried only at home, no one needed to know how weak those words made me. It has taken years for me to love myself.
Im still learning, to accept my imperfections. My uneven skin tone, the butterfly patches, underneath my eyes that discolour my face seasonally, due to Lupus. My not so black features, that people remind of occasionally. I practised and practised in the mirror everyday. Which transferred over to taking selfies. But still didn't get the validation i cried silently for. Only my friends and family called me beautiful. But thats formality really!
My friend Kerrie, if only she knew how beautiful she is. But filled with many insecurities like all of us, the one thing i couldn't understand is why she didn't like to take pictures. I was so envious of her tone, her grace, her cheek bones. But even with possessing all the things other people die to have, she would avoid pictures at all costs. I pressed and pressed her to practice. ''take a picture of yourself at home, alone.'' And for weeks she said no, it's to embarrassing. A few weeks before we were leaving for Greece she sent me a 'selfie' I remember she had 2 cornrows, and was wearing a collarless white shirt. I was so proud!
We are just at the beginning stages of Loving ones self. But at this stage it truly feels amazing! The power behind picking up your camera, not being worried about who sees. What they see. Its a stepping stone to peace within. Im not saying that its the same approach for everyone and that world peace starts with a selfie. But i hope that everyone can agree, that when they see a picture of themselves they are satisfied with, a fleeting moment of relief comes by and you smile back at yourself. Especially after you have taken 75 to get that perfect one.
Robert Cornelius (1839), took the first ever selfie, and today the word selfie sits in the oxford dictionary defined as 'a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.' I thank Cornelius, for the contribution he made, for people like me and others to overcome self doubt. It is argued that those who take selfies, use it for vanity, are conceited with big egos. I agree to some extent, but if thats what makes someone happy..
From selfie to self expression. An exhibition at the Saatchi gallery.
A white room full of video selfies. Followed by 9 rooms, Expression, through selfies. And portraits.
Word of advice. Add a colour filter, add a dog face, take a half face, practice your angles on the bus, on the train. Change it to monotone. Post them as many times as you want. Whatever makes YOU happy! I take these pictures for myself now. To remind myself I am beautiful. If i ever forget!
What we hold in our heads and our hearts, can decide our perception of the word beauty. Beauty comes from within, and it is now, not only the outside that i see.