free website hit counter Spiced Tea & Letters: Beauty by Asha Bandele

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Beauty by Asha Bandele

Beauty by asha bandele
from Essence, September 2001

Fom the beginning he has told me I am beautiful. I no longer argue with him, no longer direct his attention to the series of flaws I have somehow learned to see as the whole of myself. I smile at him, and say thank you, and try to see what he sees. I want to know the beauty he sees in me. I want to embrace it, to relax in it, to hold it close and feel protected by it on the days I feel myself shattering, getting lost in the ugly I have known. But this has yet to happen for me. This amazes him.

He asks me: Don't you see the way people look at you on the street? Don't you get a whole lot of attention from men? Look at yourself. He nearly demands this. The color of your eyes, your pretty hair, your smile, your figure. What's there that's not beautiful?

Nothing, I tell him, nothing at all. I say to him he's right, because to argue about beauty means I have to go all the way back, all the way into the places I keep trying to leave behind. So instead I agree with him, and quietly acknowledge that the special treatment I sometimes receive in restaurants and stores is probably based on my appearance. I acknowledge to him that there is this outside thing, this face, this body that is generally greeted by the world with the particular sort of kindness, the particular sort of favoritism that is granted to women and men who are deemed attractive.

What I do not acknowledge, what I do not say to him, is that however grateful I may be for what he sees on the outside, I have never been able to carry that same beauty on the inside. Beauty, the idea and space of it, is buried so far down in me, shoved down into a crevice by the memory of the teacher who molested me when I was a child, only 7 years old. Or later, when I was 14 and working in a movie theater, there was the 30-year-old who beat me up when I refused to have sex with him. Was I seen as beautiful when these and other incidents like them occurred? Can I be beautiful now as they still haunt me, still sneak up behind me and drag me back into the horror and ugliness of those days?

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At 11:06 AM, Blogger defiant goddess said...

That was awesome and I needed that. Thank you.

At 11:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am moved. Your writings are intense. Children should have lawyers like that.


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