Growing up, I was never preoccupied with the way that I looked. While most of my siblings spent their childhoods being relatively human, I, however, spent most of my childhood chasing Bigfoot and knights in shining tinfoil, analyzing life and the human race as a whole, and trying to explain to my mom that I wasn’t a lesbian and that army pants paired with socks and sandals was just a fad that season. Although I was aware of the fact that I had awkward knees that protruded at obscure angles, an extreme overbite, and an eye that sometimes, much like my common sense, wandered in high stress situations and Sunday sermons, thinking about it now, I can’t remember the first time I started hating myself;
when I stopped feeling beautiful.
Scratch that. Sounds too Lifetime movie-ish.
I can’t remember when I stopped feeling
Shit. Too 90210.
Thankfully, to prevent me from growing up and becoming a completely jaded loser with low self-esteem and a need for artificial highs, society had always made sure that I, Alexis with the weird last name and botched haircut, knew exactly what beauty was from an early age.
Because second grade beauty was
more than hand me downs and Dollar Store barrettes. Sixth grade beauty was more than Special K diets and Covergirl concealer. Eighth grade beauty was more than the people I associated myself with or, rather, the people I didn’t. It was more than D.A.R.E., more than family ties, more than Generation Facebook.
“Because beauty is more than the brand names and men we smother ourselves in; more than size nothing. More than the shoes we fill.”
I can’t remember when I first started losing myself in the calories. Maybe I was 14. Maybe I was 15 or 16. Maybe it was there all along, embedded deep in the particles of the atoms of the genes of my DNA, just waiting to be triggered and surface to my every plane. Either way, it happened and the moment that it did was the moment I lost sight of what true beauty meant.
Beauty is the way we seem to leave pieces of ourselves with memories we’ve traveled and people we’ve impacted. It’s the way we, as humans, refuse to think that anything is impossible, the way that even in our darkest of moments, we seem to taste like lemonade and Independence Day; how we use metaphors and sign language and exclamation points to translate ourselves as if words alone could do us justice. Beauty is the way we wear our stories so honestly and evidently in the cracks of our knuckles and the heels of our feet: in the deep lines at the corner of our eyes that seem to thrive in direct sunlight.
It’s how we are flawed, and imperfect, and too often seem to notice all things glorious only after they have dulled and settled, like dust, in the cracks of our lungs.
Beauty is how we’ll forever be in search of a word that rhymes with orange despite what we’ve been told our entire lives, how we Google search far too many topics like “hypothetically speaking, is it possible for pigs to fly?” or “how to solve my mid-life crisis”; it’s the way we wake up from our dreams,
those really good, intense dreams where we wake up scared but not entirely sure what of. All we know is that, whatever it was, it was good. And it was heavy. And it was fucking epic.
I guess I would be lying if I told you that today I feel beautiful; that the life I live is the epitome of the classic ugly duckling turned swan tale. The truth of the matter is most days I feel ugly and unworthy. Most days, Alexis with the weird last name and botched haircut who felt that extra small was her American dream still governs me, still radiates throughout me; still hinders me.
Beauty is complex. Beauty is perplexing. Beauty is contradiction. Sometimes I know that what I’m doing is harmful; that it is crippling and debilitating and quite possibly killing me and although that scares me, I can’t shake the idea that somehow it will save me. That somehow it will make me invincible.
However, with that being said, I know that I am imperfect and flawed. I wear my story like armor, laced in every filament of my being. I am complex and I am perplexing and I am contradiction.
We are complex and
We are perplexing and
We are contradiction.
And that is more beautiful than you will ever know.