Me and my Grandmother
I was raised by my Grandmother from when I was about a year old and from my earliest memories, it was clear that beauty was a priority. She dressed me in lace and layered dresses for playing outside, patent leather maryjane shoes for school, and tights weren’t just for church and weddings…they were near-daily “donnings.” Oh and the hair…pulled back, ponytailed, one braid, two braids, french-braided, curled, ribboned or pinned, always… perfect!
And my Grandmother always looked perfect. She was a beautiful woman. When I was 4 years old, I would gaze at her, a sponge, soaking up her beauty rituals. I was delighted looking at her dressing table with all the make up and the countless colored jars of magic potions. There was the bright sunny lemon bottle, the small white jar with green label, and the cobalt blue one right next to. These would later become my rituals as she trained me, using these tools: Eskinol (a skin lightener from the Philippines, which I truly did not need since I was born as white as a ghost!), Pond’s cold cream and the infamous Noxema.
My aunt recently sent me a picture of my Grandma who still lives in Hawaii. I barely recognized the woman in the picture. She looked vulnerable, a little sad. She is older and seemingly out of her element as her outer beauty slowly, but surely, fades. I wonder what her early childhood was really like...and how she was as a teen. I know she had her struggles, as well as, her own dreams.
Like many of us, my childhood was not exempt from deep pain. I was cut from a beautiful cloth stained with abandonment and abuse. I spent years getting the outside of me just right so that no one would ever discover what was on the inside.
This brought me back to my little girl self feeling “less than” and inadequate. But as I continue on my Spiritual path, my adult self knows it needs to continue loving my child self so she gets it: that she is loved regardless of how she looks and regardless of all the things that have happened. She needs to know that it is safe to expand and be beautiful. Her beauty exists because she just is. She is and I am.