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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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self-image

Fall in Love.

I’ve talked about body image/self image on here more times I can link or number. It’s an important thing to me. Having struggled for so, so long with a dangerous, damaging view of myself and my physical body (there was quite some mental/emotional toxicity going on, too), and having crossed to that other side where I can look in the mirror and fully love what I see, it’s still important to me to talk about it. Because:

  • Journeys may deviate and turn, but they don’t truly end.
  • We all have our moments.
  • Every day becomes an affirmation.
  • Empowering women by example is so crucial.

In other words, it’s a topic that will always appear on This Square Peg.

Please watch this video. A friend recently posted it on Facebook and I watched it and cried and I had to share it here. Quite simply: we have to fall in love with our bodies. We have to. Whether bruised or scarred or “wobbly,” they were made to accomplish pretty amazing things. To give birth. To endure disease. To partly make us who we are. The mirror merely provides the reflection. We provide the commentary. Let the words uttered to ourselves and our bodies be good, positive, kind, uplifting.

 

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younger.

younger

This speaks to me.

When I was younger, especially in my teens and a large part of my twenties, I was desperate for someone in my life who could pull me through. Through those moments when loving myself was non-factor. When I would look in the mirror and loathe the girl looking back at me. When I refused to believe that I would ever be happy. When I was just so, so lost.

That me then, needed me now. And she has her.

Given the chance, I plan on being the present and future me (wholly loving of herself and finally happy) for anyone else who needs it.

Why Not Me?

"Why Not Me?" book by Mindy Kaling.  HANDOUT  [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

I won’t get into why I love Mindy Kaling more than you’ll ever understand–and I do, I just stinkin’ do–but this excerpt (printed

in Glamour magazine) from her forthcoming second book of essays, Why Not Me?, (a title that was basically the theme of one of my recent short stories; I may post the whole thing on here soon) is just winning in every way. It’s perfect. It sums up a lot about women, confidence, perceptions, the whole lot. Read, please.

It’s especially hard, when you hear these things every day, to want to keep putting yourself out there. People’s reaction to me is sometimes “Uch, I just don’t like her. I hate how she thinks she is so great.” But it’s not that I think I’m so great. I just don’t hate myself. I do idiotic things all the time and I say crazy stuff I regret, but I don’t let everything traumatize me. And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.

nene3

Needless to say, I’ll be snagging the book and reviewing it on the ole blog. And if this excerpt is a preview of what to expect, I simply cannot wait.

Choose Beautiful.

Every day I go through the average door. But yesterday was a unique day. So I chose to go through the beautiful one.

Therein lies the power of Dove’s new inspirational ad campaign. (They’ve been quietly setting a new precedent when it comes to ads about beauty and women, Dove. I love it and I don’t think the media talks about this initiative enough.) In this video, women in different countries are presented with two entryways in front of buildings they’re walking into: Average or Beautiful. The images are immediately powerful. Some women stand before the doors and visibly wonder where to go. Some hesitate. One woman simply walks away, deciding not to choose either. Some, without hesitation, walk through the Average door and later discuss how sad their choice made them feel. Interestingly enough, these are all beautiful women, and those that walk through the Average door boggle the mind, especially those that society would say are “traditionally” beautiful. Says a lot about how, ultimately, a woman feels about herself.

There was a moment that got me, of course, right in the center of the chest and elicited my tears. (At 1:55). This woman’s quote is the one I provided above. It spoke to me because 10 years ago, had I been standing before those doors, I would have chosen “Average” in a heartbeat. My choices would have been related to not wanting to appear vain; related to what I would assume society thought of me; related to visions of what people standing nearby would whisper about the average girl having the audacity to walk through the beautiful door. Such was my world back then. I’ve talked about it at length here; I grew up in a dark place as a young woman, racked with low self-esteem, low self-worth, low everything. So that’s why it got me. I imagined myself 10 years ago and like this beautiful woman expresses, it would have been another day going into door Average.

But then, like her, I felt joyful. Because right now, this very moment, had I stood before those doors? Having worked on myself and owning who I am as a woman, a person, a human being? I would have chosen “Beautiful.” Without hesitation.

I hope you would, too.

“You Always Wear Red Lipstick…”

“…and it inspired me to buy some and wear it whenever I go out.”

My sister said these words to me the other evening as we headed out to dinner. Nice, huh? (Incidentally, she was indeed wearing her new burgundy lippy from MAC, and she wore it proudly.) Just reminded me that gone are the days when I wanted to hide my lips however and whenever I could. Now I clothe them in bright red. What’s even cooler is that my sister has the same plumpalicious lips as I do, and I love that she’s coming out of her comfort zone.

And she wasn’t kidding about me always wearing my red lippy…

IMG_2672 IMG_2702 IMG_2861 IMG_2901 IMG_2925 IMG_2988 IMG_3008

So other than Ruby Woo, my new preferred red lippy is Cream Lip Stain from the Sephora Collection in Always Red. In fact, I’m wearing that shade in most of the photos above. And I have to tell you that this red addiction continues: I just found two more colors that I want to try out. Yikes…

redlippy

Belly Love.

I saw this question on a post from The Curvy Fashionista from last year and was moved to answer the call. Thanks for the inspiration, TCF. Ok, here we go.

Dear Belly,

You’re giving me the side eye, aren’t you? Because I chose you as the favorite part of my body? And you’re like, please honey, that is a LIE? Please, let me explain.

I know that I’m unfair to you. I know that when I do my mirror checks my eyes drift down to you and I shake my head at your weird shape and your unwillingness to submit to ab exercises. I tsk tsk at you. I touch you sometimes during the day to check if you’ve transformed into that muffin top thing that invariably happens when I sit down and tsk tsk some more. So, yeah, we’re not pals. You’ve heard me refer to you as my “problem area” time and time again and I get that you’re so through with me. And that’s why I’m professing my love for you.

Belly, you’re cute. You’re part of the curves. You like music. You help me with digesting. You’re part of this entire body that I’ve learned to love and accept and take care of.

Yes, I’ve long allowed the gazes of others toward my mid-section when I wear certain outfits to mess with my mind. And rather than ignoring their appraisals, I blamed you and myself for not being more disciplined in trying to decrease your roundness. But we’re done with all that. People can look all they want. I certainly will continue with caring less. The fact that is that you are my favorite part of my body. Just like all the other parts. I will continue to nourish you and lather you with lotion. I won’t gaze at you with disdain. I’ll hum Billy Joel’s “Just the Way you Are” whenever you like. I’ll love you, because you’re part of the composite order of me.

So let’s start over, shall we?

Love always,
This Square Peg

This Curvy Square Peg?

Last night, as I stepped into my friend’s car for us to head to an appointment, she regarded me with a blank expression on her face and said the following:

Friend: I almost didn’t recognize you when you came out of the house.
Me: Huh?
Friend: That pencil skirt, that blouse. You have curves! WHY HAVE YOU BEEN HIDING YOUR CURVES?!

I couldn’t help laugh. Afterwards, I thanked her and informed her that, as always, the accepting of my body for what it is will be a constant work in progress. Having hidden in clothes for a long time to prevent (what I perceived) the appraisal of my body and physique by others, turning 30 five years ago changed more than a few things. For one, I stopped dorothyzdressing like my beloved Dorothy Zbornak there to your right. For another, I started making fashion choices that matched my new attitude. Essentially, because I worked on making what was inside all shiny and accepted, my body and I became besties. And, like any friendship, we’re still getting to know each other.

But I have curves? Really?

When I think of curvy ladies, I think of lovely hourglass figures. Of discernible hips. Of a waist. Of a derrière.

I have no discernible waist, the narrowest hips this side of Earth, hardly an hourglass figure, and a backside that must have missed the memo on being shapely in any kind of way. The only curvy things on this body are the reason I hold newborns for a short period of time before handing them back to their mothers and quietly informing them that the babe is hungry. You feel me. So when I reflected on her statement, I was like, for real? Moi? Curvy?

You know what, though? I have ’em. Curves. Although I sometimes gaze at my mother and my Ghanaian girls and some of my awesome friends in wonder and slight envy at their womanly, curvy shapes, I looked in the mirror for a looooonnng time and realized that there are curves there. I saw my waist. I saw those hiding hips. I sighed at the backside, but it’s there, too. It may not be the standard in curves, but it’s my standard, by gum, and I saw some curves! I also looked at myself in the outfit my friend exclaimed over. It was a simple black pencil skirt and a buttoned down coral/white blouse. In examining the way the skirt draped my body and the tucked in look of the blouse though–I looked kind of amazing. What? Yes, indeed. And I loved saying that to my reflection, silently, of course, since I’ve been caught conversing with myself before. Anyway. Saying that felt good and it continues to feel awesome.

This has been brought to you by a square peg who’s becoming progressively aware of a physique that is far from square. Onward and upward.

Gratitude Friday: A Thank You.

On this much belated Gratitude Friday, I was inspired by the words of actress Gabourey Sidibe during the Gloria Awards (honoring Gloria Steinem), as tweeted by the awesome Awesomely Luvvie:

“I’m grateful to…my 5th grade class because if they hadn’t made me cry, I wouldn’t be able to cry on cue now.”

I was moved by that profound and powerful statement for various reasons. Mostly, however, what stood out for me was that she was able to look back at that moment in her adolescence and communicate both the pain of the past and the fact that it hadn’t wrecked her. And this made her grateful. But I wasn’t just moved by her words. Those words also incited a memory for me. An indelible, powerful memory of what my 6th, not 5th, grade class gave me one afternoon.

We were in the chorus room, sitting cross-legged on that nubby brown carpet as we waited for our chorus teacher to come back. The next thing I knew, I heard the following chant: “Fish lips, fish lips, look at those fish lips.” I looked up, wondering who the voice belonged to and what in the world they were talking about. There, laughing, was the boy who had bullied me since I joined this new school. And he was pointing at me. The other kids soon followed suit, repeating the sing-songy chant and pointing and laughing. Those who weren’t part of it simply looked away uncomfortably. I remember feeling confusion (I look like a fish?), pain, embarrassment, even laughing a little to lessen the blow. That didn’t work though–the chanting and laughter continued until our teacher returned to the classroom.

It’s amazing, the blueprints that are created in seconds, in tiny moments. That moment in time created quite a few. For one thing, an interesting habit reared its head as I got older: covering my mouth when I laughed. Later, it became disdain when I looked at myself, my lips, in the mirror. Later still, it transformed into wondering if people were looking at them when I spoke. It wasn’t until I reached 30 (we will discuss the wonder of 30 in another post) that I looked in the mirror one day and was fully, exhale-y, and absolutely satisfied with these lips, this face, and everything in between.

daily-gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

So, like Gabby, I’m grateful to my 6th grade class because:

  • I wouldn’t appreciate these lips that look like my grandmother’s and my father’s if you hadn’t put them on blast.
  • I wouldn’t decorate them in the rubiest of Ruby Woo lipstick by MAC if I hadn’t come to appreciate the fullness of the shape you felt the need to highlight.
  • I wouldn’t be as grateful for this soul-searching journey that I was forced to go on if you hadn’t forced me to take that ride in the first place on that painful afternoon.
  • I don’t blame my old bully or those other kids for what happened anymore. I don’t blame the ones who looked away in discomfort. From what I could tell through those words and other statements she made, Gabourey Sidibe has reached the peak of her self-acceptance journey. And she’s not the only one.

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