Personal Essay #11

Illustrated by Jacqueline Davis Moranti

Usually at the end of a year I go through my photos as a little mini review of the year I've had. One thing is consistent throughout the gallery, my hair. I'm always picking my hair out, manipulating it to reach the sky, forcing it to go high and bigger. No, I'm not a 70's kid, far from it but I have my influences, Angela Davis and Foxy Brown. My hair has always been my security blanket, I felt safe hiding behind my hair, like a nest for the introverted. It had a lot to do with my insecurities as a child,  mostly with the way I looked. Children will be children and point out and make fun of other children, often more than not I was one of the kids that would be pointed out. Most days my head felt too big, my hips too wide, my thighs too thick, my skin too dark, too ethnically ambiguous especially for a Dominican. Distinct memories of elementary school classmates that couldn't go a day without reminding me of the way I look still to this day, creep into my mind as I stare at myself in the mirror. 

As a child, I experienced racism and bullying. Ofcourse, I didn't know any better to care for it, I just kept all of my hurt feelings inside because what could I do with it? Today it's a different story, today those experiences still stick with me. I don't block them out anymore, instead I am grateful for them because I never acted the way those classmates did. The hurt I endured turned into an understanding greater and and far more beyond myself. It became an understanding that helped me make progress one day at a time towards becoming a better human being, without a nod to the mind of the likes of my race, gender, orientation and anything that makes me, well me. The world we live in today has a lot of work to do especially when it comes to accepting what is different, on the inside and what is on the outside. It chills me to the core to think of the narrow mindedness and twisted hate that so many are trying to spread like an infection around the world. I do my best not to overly focus on the news! 

In this moment, theres still so much of that little lass who got bullied in the classroom because of how different she looked. I may not have been as good as they were on certain things but I was a much better human being than they were. Spreading positive influence is the reason I share with you my story, I share my story knowing that insecurities still lie within me and especially so with being so public with my life, online. My bigger than life hair can take some getting used to for others and i'll admit it put me in a self conscious mood on a whim, while at other times I love it. Occasionally I still hide behind my hair at times, and my inner introvert clings there, waiting for me to dive into a session with the moleskin. The greatest accomplishment i've ever made was to let go of what others said I could or could not do, what I could or could not say, what I can or can not be, who or who I can or can not love. This year, 2018, I will be more open and honest not just with others but with myself. 

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Thanks for the sweet whispers! XO