bare fyah for iwd 2012

Happy International Women’s Day people!

The global IWD theme is Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.

Inspired by the http://selfesteemproject.weebly.com/ we asked you, our fyah family to go bare and send us a photo with an optional blurb of what it’s like to go/be bare. Don’t worry we shared too. Everyday so many women, us included put a lot of effort into making ourselves “presentable”. The maintenance regimens for present-ability  some of us have are probably so ingrained we don’t even realise all the little details we’re policing in ourselves and other. Few men give most of these details a second thought in their own lives.

What would going bare mean for you?

no earrings? no make up? un-shaven/-waxed/-plucked eyebrows? hairy legs? hairy under arms? glasses? hairy upper lips? natural hair? non-stylish hair? no lip balm? no moisturiser? no cream?

We can build our self-esteem and those of the young women in our lives- those known and unknown to us by going bare from time to time. Being confident in or bareness is powerful. So for  us here at at addfyahandstir and our fyah family but with a special shout out to all the up and coming young fyah stirrers we’re bringing some heat to ourselves and going bare!

Happy IWD!

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I feel like my ‘mirror’ tells me things I no longer want to hear

I stand in front of the it every day, judging what I look like. “Add earrings to make you look feminine. Comb hair to look professional.” I already don’t wear makeup so I try my best to keep my eyebrows neat. Years of tweezing means they sometimes look done even when they aren’t. “Should I shave? Nope! I am wearing trousers all week.”

I don’t think I look ‘bad’ but I don’t always see beauty when I stand in front that mirror. And on the days (months and years) when the voices from the ‘mirror’ are louder than my husband’s, my mother’s and friends’, I dress up. Add make up, (straighten) hair and jewelry. Shave legs regularly. Do eyebrows. Do nails. Should I fix my teeth?” Intellectually I know, where this level of criticism is coming from. It is the aesthetic reference point that I chose abandon because, on an emotional and social level it does not represent, where I’ve come from and who I want to be.

Sometimes my ‘mirror’ doesn’t know that.

So every day I remind (I)t of my reference points.

“Daughter, do not cover that mole over your eye with foundation. It is our family’s trait.”

“Woman, don’t hide that smile from me. That smile belongs to my heart.”

“Girl! That low hair is so you. Get up and go!”

And the mirrors noise fades away.

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When you’re alone in your bathroom, in good lighting, it makes things very clear. Sometime clear is good and I feel like I’m the only girl in the world (a la Rihanna). Other times, it makes me want to crawl into bed with a tub of ice cream and a bag of chocolate covered pretzels. A lot of things make me self conscious, but I deal day to day, just like every other girl who knows that sometimes it’s okay to have blemished skin, unplucked eyebrows and wear your retainer (straight teeth… also important!). But what I really struggle with is leaving the house with no earrings. Yeah – the earrings thing is a big issue…

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I love the IWD initiative you are doing for the blog. Unfortunately, I am not prepared at this particular time to skin-out and show off “new found look” just yet. But not to be a party pooper I pinned down my beautiful mother and got the attached shot for you. Interestingly enough she was really uncomfortable taking the photo after I told her what it was for. But with a room full of support she finally took the pic. Guess you’re never to old to have your doubts.

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After too many long years of daily foundation coverage, to hide the marks, the pimples and escape the “A A what happen to your face?” statements, decided that the world needed to see me; I need to see me for me. Very liberating because then the pimples began to clear. Being unashamed of my natural self was the best gift I could give the world and myself. Me foundation-less and beautiful nonetheless!

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How do I feel sharing this pic on the Net? Pretty damn good! I’m not making a statement so to speak, not advocating ‘fros, or anti-make-up campaigns etc., but the statement would just be – ME. This is ME. On a good day or a bad day, this is ME, and even though it may have taken a while to get here, I’m in a place where I love the way I look – covered or bare 🙂

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I’ve been weaning myself off earrings the size of my fist so that wasn’t the hard part (as it may have been a few months ago) but not having any section of my hair pinned or pulled back was rough to document. But I did it, and it wasn’t too bad! I took this as I was about to go for a run, and it was the warmest it has been in months, and the sun lit me up and, and, and, i would like to call it beauty #corinnebaileyrae.

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Going bare means shedding myself of all of the things that I could hide behind – the cute clothes, the makeup, etc. It’s about standing before myself, stripped down to me. Just me. And being able to look in the mirror and say, “You know what? You’re pretty cute, all on your own.”

 The act of going bare is the same as writing a love letter to myself. One full of acknowledgement of everything that I am; one that recognizes that something truly wonderful resides within myself, and can radiate fiercely if I peel back all of the layers and allow it room to grow, to stretch, to breathe.  It’s about reminding myself to smile with my whole mouth, rather than self-consciously half-smiling to hide my cute little snaggle-tooth. Its about not going into crisis mode whenever my skin breaks out. It’s about loving every strand on top of my head, even the grey one making its presence known.
Most of all, being bare is about being fearlessly devoted to all that makes me, me.

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I started wearing make-up from the age of 12/13, because I had some serious self-esteem issues from the age of 5. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough because I was so ‘dark’. I used make-up as the dressage to make the package, meaning me, look more appealing. With that said, society loves to label, preferring to put women into categories rather than just letting them be. Although I know it can be super tough to just exist in this world, ‘being you’ should be the first and only option. With or without make-up every woman is beautiful, PERIOD! We just need to learn to embrace ourselves in our truest form. This isn’t about telling you what to wear, this is about encouraging you to embrace you, something I myself am still learning to master.” ………….. ps I took nearly 30 pics just to find the 2 I felt comfortable with; like I said I am a work in progress.

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“Will this picture show up if someone googles me?” I’d be lying if I said wasn’t worried that somehow, somewhere down the line this picture of my naked, blemished, round, sun-starved face, could come back to haunt me in ways that I can’t imagine. Don’t mistake my fear for shame or embarrassment. I LOVE ME, blemishes and all because I’ve learned  to see beyond them. It was a process, but I have arrived.

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This is how I look most days. No make up. No earrings. Messy hair. Unshaven eyebrows. Unshaven legs. I really can’t deal with the pressure to “look nice”. I conform with the earrings and legs in two specific circumstances- I’m going out- party I literally feel like people are watching me) and/or I feel like shit (it’s a pick up me). The pressure to be presentable and what they means for women is far too high for me to participate every day. Plus I know that if I made it a reality for my life then I would begin to be less accepting of what I looked like without all that work, my self-esteem can’t afford that. I’m fragile. Don’t get me wrong, I know people are looking and thinking and talking about “why don’t you just… do your eyebrows, get your hair done, shave your legs etc.” I get it to my face and behind my back. I’m not comfortable in the deviance at all, the pressure is real, it would be much easier to conform all the time, but feel that small victory, however misunderstood every time I get away with not shaving my legs and wearing shorts. 🙂

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” at first I thought this was a wild idea, then I reaslied that I like the makeup more than I actually wear it, I figured maybe this won’t be too bad”

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Converting my thoughts to written words is one of the most unsheathing things I’ve ever done, and I’m probably ever going to do.
This is the naked me…
 Natural – To most, the person you see here is the normal, everyday me.  Besides being a lip balm/chap stick junkie, I’ve never been a lover of make-up.
 Dark-skinned Beauty – For most of my life, I’ve loved my complexion.  I must admit, however, that I’ve struggled from time to time with the tug-of-war of wishing that my complexion was lighter because “light-skinned girls” seemed to have life better.  I remember that while growing up,I felt as though I didn’t qualify to get certain jobs because I was dark-skinned cause all of the girls that worked in the cool places were pretty and light-skinned.
 African Queen – I am not my hair, but my hair represents me and my epiphany.  I remember the days when I thought that straight, flowing hair was the be-all and end-all…I suffered from serious hair envy because someone else’s hair was always “flowier”, shinier, and neater than mine.  I have thick, coarse hair that I was made to feel embarrassed about for most of my life.  Then one day, I realized that I needed to shed the scales of that self-image.  My acceptance and embracing of my nature was the best thing that ever happened to me and it is important to be comfortable in your own skin and true to yourself.  Why the beads?  The beads represent my acceptance and love of my African and natural self.
Like You! Embrace You! Know You! Teach You! Love You! Be You!
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…i loved her fiercely…’ and kindly. and sincerely. ever learning how to do better by her.
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Learning to be comfortable in uncomfortable communities!

This is ‘bare’ me first thing in the morning…didn’t even brush teeth yet ;). I am comfortable like this in my home and around my neighbourhood. If I’m going out I realise I pay attention to two things in particular…my hair and lips. For the most part I have viewed my hair as an accessory and have done a myriad of ‘things’ to it including this third big chop. This third chop is different though, it is not the ‘oh its just hair it will grow back’ feeling I had with the previous chops. This time its’ my natural hair as an accessory yes..BUT more importantly it’s an EXTENSION OF ME.’

At most I feel guilty, and ashamed for learning to be comfortable with organically what’s part of me. And I know those feelings stem from this part of me that is not accepted mainstream more importantly in the communities to which I seek belongingness. As a woman who loves herself, you would think that these feelings should be alien to me. But it doesn’t matter how much you love yourself, if you are made to feel uncomfortable in any given situation you would. And I am sure that I’ll make other people uncomfortable with my natural hair too. S
Oh the lips…well that uncomfortableness started when I was barely a teenager assaulted with rude comments about them. I didn’t even knew they existed until ‘those comments’ but I sure as hell I’ve tried to hide them anyway I can. For the most part it means making them look small or less noticeable…and I’ve mastered the art with lip liner more truthfully eye pencil!o I’m trying to be less unconcern about them, particularly since I ain’t doing no one harm..BUT MYSELF.

So ‘bare’ me is just striving for and learning to be comfortable in an uncomfortable and unforgiving world.

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Since knowing that I was going to post a bare photo of myself I have been thinking a lot about why I wear makeup/earrings/wax brows. Does a thin layer of powder fix or cover or hide what it is that makes me self-conscious? I know that I almost never leave my house without earrings and anyone who knows me that getting my eyebrows done is serious business. I would like to say that I do all of this for me but I know that when I am a few days late for a wax I feel like people can’t help but stare at the looong-ass straggly brow hairs that deserve to be ripped violently from my face. Maybe this will change. I used to hate my teeth. Considerable teasing as a child and more than a few suggestions from dentists that I fix the gap made me choose to purse my lips together in many unfortunate/uncomfortable photos from my teen years. Now, 15 years later I see it as part of me, I can’t really say that I love my gap but I love it as part of ME. Maybe bushy eyebrows as part of me, maybe??

 I must say that I am proud that I didn’t take about 12 photos and agonise over the ‘best’ one. I took this one and felt good about it. I think I don’t update FB profiles etc very often for that very reason. Too much to measure and compare and question. So I leave it be.

Today I feel that I am beautiful- contributing, learning, accepting, dreaming. Grateful  to be in my bare skin and looking forward to being bare more often.

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Thank you fyah fam!

Happy IWD!

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Comments on: "bare fyah for iwd 2012" (5)

  1. Love love love it!

  2. Beautiful women, all of you.. Thank you for sharing and making me feel okay with sharing too!

  3. the_travelling_trini said:

    Great post! You are quite right, it is almost second nature to think, ‘Should I add something? Should I pretty myself up?’ I am always self conscious about my nerdy glasses so sometimes wear contacts instead… I want to wear some cute heels to make my legs look curvier… it is always something you are worrying about! But, I do believe that with some self discipline and personal brainwashing you can convince yourself, ‘I am fine. I *AM* fine just how I am. Just chill!’ Takes a long time though…

  4. I think this whole concept is a genius idea. Beautiful women, all of you. I would love to see an entire day of women going bare. A way to ween out all the shallow people. To see what people think about you without the glam. Again, Beautiful.

  5. […] We spoke about body image for our IWD post and we all acknowledge that we have insecurities about our physical appearance. This article made […]

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