For a lot of my life I have not experienced being beautiful as beauty is defined in America.
As a Black child I did not experience being beautiful or precious in my community. I was all those things that (especially back then) were not seen as beautiful sweet or innocent.
I was dark. My skin was quite a bit darker as a child. I have clearly Afrocentric looking features. Especially at that age. I had long hair for many years yes but it was black and kinky.
I grew up in a very White community. Outside of the context of my immediate family no one ever told me I was pretty or beautiful or cute (outside of being a very very small child).
As I got older my concept of being beautiful had nothing to do with anything I was shaping up to be.
I was still dark, I was short, I was chubby. I did not have a flat stomach, there was no space between my thighs, I did not have a small cute nose, I had a gap between my front teeth, there was no one who looked even remotely like me who was thought of as beautiful.
Even the Black women (few and far between) on television who were portrayed as being beautiful were everything I still wasn't.
As I got older, high school age my lack of beauty became something that consumed me. I knew I was ugly. I just knew it. My skin was oily, my body was shaped differently than the girls I knew. I was the ugly girl.
I remember reading one of the teen beauty mags and trying out their advice to beautify myself. I did sit ups at home in bed trying for that flat stomach, I spent hours burning the fuck out of my hair trying to get it to be shiny and sleek. I snuck and bought bleaching creams to try and lighten my face up and burned my skin.
At that age I fully believed that beauty was not at all subjective. I believed that the images in the media, that the opinions of my peers were what decided who and what was beautiful and at some point I realized I would never ever fit that.
When I was around 17-18 I said fuck it. I stopped trying to be the pretty girl. I stopped trying to feel pretty. I realized that when I went to the mall with my friend I would be ignored or some dude would at some point walk up to me and start grilling me about her.
I fully accepted that I would be a really good friend to people I was romantically or sexually interested in. I would be tolerated so someone could hang out with my beautiful (white) lady friends. I would sit in a room making awkward small talk while my friend was off making out with the hot guy and I was the weight his wingman was stuck with.
I made the decision, and I remember it very clearly, to embrace the role I perceived myself to have. I talked to the wing men, I held hands with my lady friends when they didn't want boys bothering us, I tagged along, I observed the lusty looks my friends got.
I took charge of being the ugly girl.
When I let go of trying so hard what happened was I started to develop my own aesthetics. I stopped giving a fuck. If I was going to be the fat ugly girl, I was going to work that shit out.
At that age it was just dawning on me that I did not have to be the kind of beautiful I saw everywhere in my life. I started to understand that it's not necessary and no one gets to make the rules as to my feelings about beauty.
Chew on that for a second.
It applies to you too.
I finally understood that I did not -have- to ascribe to the White beauty ideals I had grown up with. I understood that I didn't -have- to do fuck all. I did not have to engage with that.
After that a lot of things stopped bothering me on a superficial level.
Every time I heard that I was pretty for a Black girl, or when someone told me they usually weren't into dark girls or fat girls, I gave myself permission to tell those people to take their bullshit somewhere else.
In the world of Western Beauty standards I am still the ugly girl.
I have fucked up teeth. My skin is discolored in many places and bumpy. My hair is often kind of disheveled. I am fat. I am Black. I don't make an effort to make myself look like what our culture says is beautiful.
A lot of people think I am ugly and weird looking. People in meat space, people on the internet and probably people in other dimensions.
At the end of the day I really give no fucks about that.
Other peoples opinions of my beauty and how I engage with my beauty and my ugliness is none of my concern.
I am ugly.
I am ugly and it's just fine.