We all search for beauty. In the people we meet. In the things we encounter around us. But so many of us stop there, and are afraid to own the beauty within.
Why? Because suddenly the standard of beauty when applied to us must meet certain conditions. Otherwise, we risk being exposed as frauds.
But we’ve got it all wrong. The beauty within is what allows us to acknowledge and celebrate the beauty outside.
And as The Nightingale teaches us, the sooner we realize it, we can fully embrace all that we are, even if we always feel like the odd man out.
I believe beauty is more than just skin deep, it’s an emotional and personality thing. And the attributes I think make a man beautiful are confidence and strength, which come out in different ways, and, of course, melanin. For so much of my life, I’ve felt weak and that I had to be strong, and that’s something I never thought I had. So confidence and security is a powerful trait to me. That confidence and sureness makes you feel safe, and thus you become confident in who you are.
But I don’t know that I would call myself beautiful. There are days I tell myself that in order to really believe it. I feel like I do get attention, but there’s a lot of insecurity. I think I try to overcompensate. A lot of days I don’t see the beauty that others see and I feel like I don’t measure up. And because I sing and act and want to pursue that as a career, I constantly compare myself to others. Now, I do believe I have a great voice, and that I’m easy on the eyes, but I don’t know if I would call myself beautiful.
As a child, I felt like an ugly duckling. I definitely got teased as a kid, horribly. It didn’t stop until high school. I even got laughed off of a bus…
What’s ironic is that I find beauty in so many different types of people. And for someone who enjoys the beauty in so many ways, I don’t see it in myself. I think that’s because I’ve internalized the things that I’ve been told aren’t right.
As a child, I felt like an ugly duckling. I definitely got teased as a kid, horribly. It didn’t stop until high school. I got laughed off of a bus, and partially it was because we were poor and I didn’t present myself in a way that others considered to be socially acceptable. There are features that I hated at first and now I appreciate it. But my complexion is something I felt really insecure about.
I’m the lightest of all my siblings. It’s something to be noticed, which made me feel ostracized. Within the black community, many people see lighter skin as a positive and desirable trait. And it’s not exactly something I don’t like about myself because it’s my skin and I’ve learned to accept it.
But what I didn’t like about it growing up is that it attracted too much attention from others, which ultimately made me feel different and isolated. For so long, I just wanted to be accepted and almost normal. I remember going to relatives on my mom’s side of the family and always feeling awkward because I didn’t look like them.
What’s ironic is that I find beauty in so many different types of people. [But] I don’t see it in myself. I think that’s because I’ve internalized the things that I’ve been told aren’t right.
My skin color also created a disconnect for some within in the black community who encounter me and immediately assume I’m not black. In fact, a lot of the time people see me, they think I’m Hispanic. There’s a certain camaraderie and unspoken acceptance when you see someone who looks like you. But I’ve always felt like I was outside of that. In my mind, I’m obviously black, but that doesn’t always register to others.
When people see someone that seems to be Hispanic or like they might have a white parent, they approach you differently. They treat you as if your experience, although valid and important, isn’t the same of theirs, which makes them view you as someone who doesn’t know how it feels to struggle like they did. But I am black and I know how they feel more than I could ever explain.