In high school, a school comprised of mostly black students, I was constantly picked apart, savagely crucified as if my very existence were a running gamut for the cruelest jokes. If it wasn’t the gap between my teeth, it was my facial structure, my broad nose, giant lips, and ugly glasses. Plus, I admit my style was downright horrible.
Growing up, one of my biggest problems was hyperpigmentation– the reason I couldn’t wear open toed sandals or dresses that exposed elbows and knee caps. I wasn’t one brown color. My skin ranges from medium brown to Ebony. I often wore hip hugging pants that slid downward, exposing the darker flesh of my back and mapped out stretch mark coordinates. Menacing peers would be quick to tell me, “hey! Pull that up! Nobody wants to see that!” Meanwhile, the girl ahead of me is exposing the same amount of flesh– save for the flaws. She was smooth and even toned, no blemishes.
During this rough time, my depression continued gradually climbing. I experimented with over-the-counter bleaching creams to lighten up “my problems,” not knowing what these harmful chemicals were creating within my cellular structure (likely damaging my whole teen life inside as well as out). I cannot be positive on my eventual realization that other people’s problems with my body had nothing to do with me.
It happened along a painful, many years passing road.
Months ago, I was especially pleased to discover that an Afropunk highlighted artist featured “imperfect” models. Their hyperpigmentation, freckles, and stretch marks were documented as quite beautiful captures that we rarely see put on pedestals. I wish I could find out that artist, having not saved the information, but those photographs reenergized my self love.
Isn’t it also funny that a person can Google search “big pore love” and a thousand articles for “How to Minimize Your Large Pores” come up?
I was never a huge fan of foundation. Sure, I played around with it in those dreadful teenage days whilst paying close attention to application instructions from Seventeen and Teen Vogue. I had better luck with a few free makeovers at the mall. Still, it was bad enough finding my shade for the shade that I started growing fond of. I began asking myself, “what exactly am I trying to cover up?” I like the shade. I no longer cared about callous people saying, “you’re too dark for this” or “you’re too dark for that.” I had the defining Penelope moment, loving my face as it is. I wear eye shadow every now and then. Blush sometimes. I love lip glosses and lip sticks. But by gosh, I love washing my face, blotting on moisturizer, and coconut oil, leaving the home just like that– giant pores, pimples, hyperpigmentation, and all.