Flaws and All Flaws and All

Flaws and All

Between working in retail for several years and being a freelance makeup artist, I've experienced first-hand the many ways in which we, as women, physically tear ourselves apart. I'm convinced that in the fine invisible print of each job description within the fashion and beauty industries, there is a duty that reads "Self-Image Therapist," for this is a role that comes without question each day. "No ma'am, you're not too fat for that dress." "Of course those jeans don't make your hips look too wide." "No way---you don't need implants. Your boobs look great in that top just as they are." My makeup clients are no better with their evaluations of self: "I know it's gonna take a lot to get this mug in order, Chels" or even "Give me the thickest concealer you've got, girl; these under eye circles are gonna need some work." At times I'm tempted to grab perfect strangers by the shoulders, and shake some sense back into their poor, self-hating souls while screaming: YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.

It wouldn't work. And I'm not sure what more it would take, but after recently witnessing a woman break down into tears after looking at herself in a mirror, I knew there was something terribly wrong. Something deserving of further investigation.

I sat behind the counter at work that day, nearly in tears myself. A heart heavy knowing that no amount of positivity and bestowed compliments would change the fact that that woman could barely stand the sight of her own reflection. I thought it over until my head hurt---why do we object ourselves to such scrutiny? And after going back and forth in my own mind, I faced a harsh reality: I'd been no better. Me. Chelsea. The same one who'd been the mascot for self-love, confidence, and appreciation of our physical being without question just a couple hours prior. Nope, I'd been no better. Because as far back as I could remember, I, too, beat myself up internally and blamed the world for my seemingly misfortunate features.

I blamed my Mother, the picture of perfection she was during my younger years, for being everything I was not. Light. Short. A hair filled with curly long locks. I couldn't understand how she, my grandmother, and most of my cousins and aunts had the look---light skin, long hair. And I just had to be different, the oddball. "Why me?" I'd wonder silently.

I blamed my Father, not only for being a pitiful individual, but for tainting my being with these awkward physical realities. Darker skin (avoided the sun like a plague). Coarser hair (relaxers from elementary school, on). The height of a damn basketball player! Ohhhhhh, that wicked height. My mom is 5' 2" you see, so only he could be blamed for my always being the tallest one in the class photo. 5'9" by the time I reached 8th grade. Size 10 feet. I cursed his unspoken name when I had to go out of my way to find fashionable shoes for a teenage girl hard-pressed on following "the trends." And when I had to pay more for my Jordan's because I couldn't fit the same cute kiddie sizes that my friends wore, please believe I gave him hell.

I blamed adolescence for acne and braces---at the same time. And I wasn't quite sure who to blame for my needing glasses, but please believe they were deserving of my discontent, too.

I blamed my best friends for having video-vixen statures in middle school while I could barely fill out a bra. One was a D-cup even in sixth grade, and got all the guys' attention. The other was a track superstar, and, thus, stacked like a stallion. The only girl in the whole school with a booty like J-Lo, or so it seemed back then. When she walked by, time would stop for just a few seconds. Oh, yes, the fellas loved her too! My flimsy frame couldn't compare.

I blamed makeup for giving me a false sense of beauty and femininity throughout high school. No, I didn't wear foundation. But eyeshadow, liner, blush, and lipgloss, all became addictions. Fun, playful, and harmless to the untamed eye. But there soon reached a point at which I couldn't leave the house fresh-faced because I'd forgotten that I was pretty without all the extra fixings. Late to class, sitting in the car, applying that third coat of mascara. It was my "thing" and I couldn't have a day off.

I blamed college for blessing me with ten extra pounds each year. Thirty to date. Something about being free to come and go and eat and hang out and stay up as you damn well please begets bad habits. And, yes, they became my own. But when I transferred schools and moved to Atlanta, I blamed Georgia for having me feel that I wasn't thick enough. The figures of my modelesque friends back home couldn't even begin to compare to the shapes of these southern gals. Nope, no amount of squats and lunges could give you the hips and backside of someone who's been fed pork chops, macaroni and cheese, and cornbread since childhood. Or even someone who's had a couple shots (if you know what I mean) here and there; yes, those have nearly become the norm too.

I blame a whole bunch of people for a whole bunch of other things I have yet to come to terms with regarding my appearance, but more than anything - I blame myself. For I, like the woman who wept in front of the mirror, am to blame for how I have handled that over which I have no control. And even more at fault for measuring my own worth against someone else's natural standard; I'd always be an imperfect version of them, but couldn't see that I was a flawless version of myself. I was too young to understand that my complexion was the most gorgeous shade of brown that God had ever blended---because he created it just for me. And, even so, these days I love me a good summer tan---the browner, the better. I was too stubborn to know that my height was a blessing---something that made me stand out in a crowd---striking. Plus, it automatically eliminated all the short, good-for-nothing guys who's attention I thought I needed at the time. And I was too damn dumb to realize that I wore a size 10 so that I could always have access to the good shoes that all the 7.5-8s had to fight for at the department stores. Duh! How could it not be obvious? *Sighs*

I've learned from self-evaluation and retrospect that we will all face physical insecurities at one point or another. But you either love it, deal with it, fix it, or die inside from irrational feelings of inadequacy---take your pick. I choose to be proud of those subtleties that set me apart from the next woman, and I encourage you all to do the same. Love yourself as a work-in-progress, for you will only become more gorgeous from adopting a positive self-image. And let's uplift one another, too. Instead of being mad because the next chick has a badder body than your own---complement her and ask what kind of workouts she does. Like someone's hair? Tell her so, and just maybe she'll slip you her stylist's card. You never know, the very thing you commend her on may be the single thing making her feel not so up to par that day. Be a blessing to someone else . . .

Please feel free to share any flaws that you've learned to love about yourself, and how you reached that point!

- Chelsea Smith

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Singer Whitney Houston is seen performing on stage during the 2004 World Music Awards at the Thomas and Mack Center on September 15, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Whitney Houston's personal life has been explored ten times over since her untimely passing in 2012 but one of her closest friends wants to share with the world the Whitney she knew and ultimately fell in love with.

In excerpts to People Wednesday (Nov. 6), Robyn Crawford presents a strong bond between the two in her new memoir, A Song For You: My Life With Whitney Houston. The singer and Crawford met in their youth while working at a summer camp in East Orange, New Jersey. From there, their friendship blossomed into something more romantic. With homophobia running rampant in the 80s, Crawford says they never looked at labels but enjoyed the experiences they shared together.

“We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay,” writes Crawford. “We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever.”

As their journey continued, Whitney's star began to rise which put allegedly put their romance on ice. “She said we shouldn’t be physical anymore,” writes Crawford. "Because it would make our journey even more difficult. She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us....and back in the ’80s, that’s how it felt. I kept it safe. I found comfort in my silence.”

Whitney's relationship with Crawford was mentioned in the 2018 documentary Whitney. Created by the singer's estate, the film focused on the singer's legacy and didn't include first-hand accounts from Crawford. Family members were weary of their special friendship.

"I’ve never seen them do anything but I know that she was something that I didn’t want my sister to be involved with," Whitney's brother Gary stated in the documentary.

But Crawford is finally ready to tell her own story while "lifting" Houston's legacy.

“I wanted to lift her legacy, give her respect and share the story of who she was before the fame, and in that, to embrace our friendship,” she tells People. "I'd come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship. And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent."

A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston is expected to hit bookshelves this fall.

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Keke Wyatt Announces That She's Pregnant With Her Tenth Child

Keke Wyatt has news to share that concerns expanding her family tree. On Monday (Oct. 14), the "If Only You Knew" singer revealed that she's pregnant with her tenth child.

"My husband Zackariah Darring and I are so happy to announce that we are expecting our new bundle of joy!" she wrote on Instagram. "We are excited to welcome the 10th addition to our beautiful family."

The vocalist continued to state that fans can follow her pregnancy journey on her YouTube series The Keke Show where she gives an intimate look at how she balances her career and motherhood.

 

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My husband Zackariah Darring and I are so happy to announce that we are expecting our new bundle of joy! We are excited to welcome the 10th addition to our beautiful family. Stay tuned for the release date & information for my new YouTube Series “The Keke Show” where you will see me balancing Wife, Mommy and Artist!!! Trust me.. it’s never a dull moment with my family. Love ya sugars💋💋💋 photo credit: @keever_west Styled/Designed by: @keever_west Asst: @freddyoart

A post shared by Keke Wyatt (@keke_wyatt) on Oct 14, 2019 at 4:43pm PDT

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"I just don't believe in shutting down. I believe in that's what the Lord had for me," she said. "Babies don't get in the way of careers, we get in the way of careers. If that's what the Lord had for me from the very beginning, there's nothing nobody can do and nobody can say."

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Summer Walker's Debut Album Inspires Drake To Write New Music

Summer Walker's debut album Over It has everyone's heart aflutter, including Drake.

Off the heels of her debut project, the Atlanta songstress shared Drake's admiration for her project Sunday (Oct. 6) which included collaborations from Jhene Aiko, Usher. 6LACK and Bryson Tiller. Drake had a strong reaction to "Fun Girl," a track that speaks to the acoustic aura of her precious project, CLEAR.

Sharing his love with more than a few emojis, the rapper reveals the song inspired him to pen two new songs at the crack of dawn.

 

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So I guess fun girl is his favorite song on the album, mines isss... BODY🥰 what’s yours ?

A post shared by Summer Walker (@summerwalker) on Oct 6, 2019 at 3:02pm PDT

Summer and Drake worked together for the remix to her breakout hit, "Girls Need Love." In Billboard's  “You Should Know” series, the singer says the two met via Instagram after he gushed about her visuals to the original track. "He said, 'I saw your video on a bowling alley monitor. Thought it was cool,'" she recalled. She added it was Love Renaissance's Justice Baiden who talked her into asking Drake for the remix. The singer is signed to the label along with Grammy-nominated singer 6LACK.

Things have been looking great for the singer. Her album has topped Spotify and YouTube since it's release Friday and is expected to make a nice debut on Billboard's 200 charts.

Get to know the men behind Love Renaissance in our feature, LVRN's Reebok Collaboration Showcases Atlanta's Influence In Fashion.

 

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