Unapologetically Me

When you live in a world which focuses primarily on the aesthetic, it feels as though there is no longer a space for the plain Jane. When I use the term plain Jane I’m referring to the women that may be deemed to not have made that much of an effort with their physical appearance, the women that do not wear a lot of make up or keep up to date with the latest fashion trends. I’m now proud to say that I am one of those women but it has taken years to reach the point of feeling comfortable in my own skin.

I spent many of my teenage years and very early twenties trying to enhance my appearance to feel pretty, I’m sure this is an issue all women can relate to. You turn on the TV, flick through a magazine or scroll down your news feed on social media and are bombarded with images of stereotypically beautiful women and the pressure is unbearable! My eyebrows were always too bushy, nose too wide, lips too dark, breasts not full enough the list is endless. As much as I felt the pressure from the world to conform to this idea of beauty I found the majority of the pressure came from my own mother.  She had spent years telling me to “make an effort” and repeatedly told me stories of how she spent hours moulding my nose as a baby to prevent my nostrils being any bigger, stories of her embarrassment as a young mother when people mistook me for a boy simply because I was born without hair. With each story told I could sense that at the time this made her uncomfortable, no one wants to be the mother with the ugly baby right?

Miatta Conteh

I would be criticised for not wearing makeup, preferring clothes I considered comfortable to the figure hugging cleavage exposing alternatives but the biggest blow to my confidence was the look on her face when she discovered I had cut my hair. I made the choice to return to my natural state after years of trying to uphold European beauty standards, my path to self-discovery had begun but my mother could not think of anything worse. She told me I had ruined my beauty, which I chose to take as a compliment, for if I had ruined my beauty at least that meant she saw some in me to start with but why is something as simple as our hair so closely linked to our beauty? That in itself is a whole other topic of conversation. I’m the first to admit I have no interest in fashion, I can appreciate a well put together outfit but I have no urge to participate.  Why this baffles some people I will never understand. I’ve had many a conversation with women from different backgrounds and different ages in regards to this issue. Why does my reluctance to conform to society’s idea of what is beautiful, make you feel uncomfortable? Why does the fact that I choose my outfits based on the laundry rotation unnerve you? Why do my full lips, dark circles under my eyes larger than average nose and my untamed locs offend you?

As a self-proclaimed plain Jane’ I’m forced to live in a world that tells me I’m ugly, that I will never fit in unless I spend copious amounts of time and money on my appearance to be accepted. As much as I’ve made the decision to not participate I still respect the decision of those that do, all I ask for is the same respect in return. When you look at a woman like me take the time to think and not judge because behind the scarred face and uneven tones lies a soul at peace, at peace with her spirit mind and body. When you look at me I hope you see a woman that has overcome, a woman that has been told from birth she is ugly but has chosen to believe she is beautiful. I choose to love myself flaws and all and to ignore what the world has told me I should be. I choose to not feed my insecurities by forcing myself to become someone I know deep down I am not. I may never be your idea of beautiful, you may never notice me when you pass me on the street, you may even chuckle at my seemingly unkempt exterior but please remember when I stand in front of the mirror everyday what I see staring back at me in its natural unaltered state is beauty. I choose to be unapologetically comfortable, unapologetically me. Know that this plain Jane’s Soul is at peace.

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