For me, the holiday season means a lot of trips to my mother’s house. And going to her house means getting all of the “crap” from my childhood bedroom out of her garage and putting it in my own damn house. Geeze, mom…
After my latest dive through the garage of memories, I emerged with several boxes of photographs of myself, my family and my friends from my middle school and high school years.
As I pored over the photographic evidence of the most awkward years of my adolescence, I found one pic of myself that I could not stop staring at. It was a photo of me in a red dress. I immediately recognized the moment. It was junior year. I was 15. I was going to prom with my boyfriend at the time. I looked at myself and remembered everything I felt about that day. I remember feeling bloated, feeling my breasts were too big and saggy, like my dress showed off how weirdly my butt was shaped, like my hair wasn’t smooth and shiny enough and my skin was just…not pretty.
And as my 2016 self looked at my 2006 self, all I could think was: Damn. I LOOKED GOOD!!!
Y’all, your girl was BAD! She was a devil in a red dress here to slayyy, honey! Skin was looking right! Titties were perky, booty was poppin’. Stomach was flat, hair was laid for the gawds. But if you look at the picture from that night, you would see in my face that I didn’t believe any of this of myself. I’m not smiling. My eyes are thoughtful, probably preoccupied with all of the awkwardness of my 15-year-old body and life.
I wish I could go back 10 years and tell little Jolie to chill tf out. No one is looking at you and judging your body, boo. And if they are, fuck ‘em. They’re probably shallow assholes or they’re just mesmerized by how dope you look. Cause, girl, your body is fine. Not only does it look good, but it functions in all the ways it’s supposed to, thank God. Be nicer to yourself, child! You’d never critique a stranger on the street the way you critique yourself. Stop wasting mental strength wishing for the ‘one day’ when you’ll look different because trust me, one day you’ll look back and wish you looked the way you do now.
It would seem a lot of my peers are looking back on the past. The #DubChallenge has taken over the Gram. People are posting pics of their childhood selves remarking on how much “better” they look now. True, the Glow-up is real in a lot of our situations. Lord knows, I have no desire to go back to the days of acne and growth spurts and training bras. But I’d like to think that we don’t actually look “better,” rather we just look at ourselves better than we used to. We appreciate ourselves more. And I hope we continue to look at our changing bodies, circumstances and surroundings with appreciation.
10 years later, a lot of things about me are different. I definitely weigh a lot more. My breasts, ass and thighs are much bigger. My hair is absolutely not smooth or shiny and my skin is 60 percent stretch marks and cellulite. But the biggest difference between then and now is that I’m happy. In the decade since that pre-prom photo was taken, I’ve learned to love myself and not measure my attractiveness by my physical appearance, because I’m so much more than that. And hell, even if I do critique my appearance, I’m still fine as hell. I always have been.
I’ll never look the way I did in 2006 and I don’t want to. Looking that way didn’t make me happy and I don’t think it contributed to my success. All I want is to look at myself, in this moment, and feel the love I should’ve shown myself 10 years ago. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life looking back and longing for yesterday. Then I’ll never appreciate today. Why not love myself, my body, my job, my finances, my friends and my life right now while I can?
Holiday season is still in full swing and New Year’s Day is approaching. Many of us will resolve to quit eating trash. The gyms will be packed with people trying to be #TeyanaTaylor2017. Dating sites will crash as we try to get someone to love us before Valentine’s Day. It’s okay to be healthy and have body goals and to seek out the love of others. I want the same for myself. But before the number on the scale or the relationship status or the pant size can change, we have to change our minds and change the way we look at ourselves and others.