I hate labels.
I grew up of immigrant parents from a color-concerned 3rd world country in the Caribbean. They worked hard to send me to a catholic school where for the first three years of academia no one else looked like me; luckily I didn't notice until the third grade. That was when the comments about my hair were made. They were cute, I suppose.. "What beautiful bows, how does your hair stay like that?" I probably had an innocent accent from saying words I thought were English only to be received with confused laughter. It was that moment where I realized I cannot fit in physically because I was not meant to.
"Don't hang out with those black Americans! They are the people that don't go to school and never work!" which was the narrative of the old man, often met with eye rolls. I used to believe him, not because there was any fact but because it was fun to not have actually earned a status and feel entitled to it. Because daddy said so obviously, but I digress. So I was told to forever speak proper (I knew no other way?) appear neat and clean, polite, never talk back and be above the cut academically. My grandfather would lecture "Girls should be like beautiful flowers, always look and smell good". Well OK then.
Time goes on and I sprout my mothers hips and ass to my classmates slender frames with breast. A few more brown classmates have joined and together we faced (and conquered!) the tired politics of the old world. Sr. Francine may you rest in the peace that you denied us. Questioning my fathers reasoning about black Americans as it so clearly was ignorant; we were treated the same no matter what our GPA was. As a "flower" I was boxed long before as something else. Defined before allowing definition, when my entity was still unknown even to myself. However these strangers knew me? My friends knew me? Or what they expected because of complexion and/or grades? Goal of my teen years 1) Break the glass ceiling, 2) Get to college.
"Girls should be like flowers, always look good and smell good". No denying the proximal affect of a beautiful bouquet. In a week those flowers and stems have wilted but still pretty, nothing more attractive than a downward spiral. And in another week they are trashed and maybe replaced. Maybe not.
Beauty gets old and boring and surely replaceable. But a beautiful spirit never expires. It's full of love, adventure, compassion, and wanton jubilee. I've never strived to be simply beautiful, a facade of good genes and makeup. I hope my spirit never dies, even when my "Beauty" does. Grandpa will understand.
I hate Labels.