I would like to take a second to redefine beauty. To take beauty out of the hands of people who call it a single size or look or idea because then, we can never be beautiful. And we have become a people who aspire to beauty, like never before.
This is the first year of my life where I have had a kind relationship with food. Where I have not once stopped eating all together, or eaten less than 50 calories a day. Where, instead, I have filled my time with slicing vegetables and pretending to be on Chopped. With sweets and savories and little shame. I think it's because of the students. For the first time in my life I want to be better for someone--because I sure as hell have never decided on "better" for myself.
But I have reached my limit on hypocrisy and, I'm finding that, it's much easier to tackle the things you can control before the ones you feel you have less control over.
Food used to be my control: only I had the power to allow or limit, and so I did. Anything to feel less like a pawn in my life. To take gratification from the way people smiled at me-- or stared as I walked by. Yes, I am surviving on water and half a portion of almonds. I'm glad you like it.
I don't have that anymore. It's all incredulousness from this side of the screen. Without my control, I don't find much to be proud of myself for. But I'm learning.
I used to think the passage from child to adult completed with some sort of epiphany. That, in order to be a real grown up, you were clued into a secret of sorts. The pool on the fourth floor, the monster under the bed. The reality is that couldn't be further from the truth. And maybe my message got lost in the mail, as so many of mine seem to, but rather than an epiphany, I think we are forced into action. If my taking care of myself is demonstrative of the way I want my kids to take care of themselves, then I can handle that.
I'm having my seniors finish the year writing an epic poem about their lives so far, in the form of a hero's journey. A few weeks ago, one of my favorite little derelicts informed me that graduation, for him, was not the end of the journey but his "call to action." And he is exactly right. And he is my call to action, although he'll never know it.
So I want to redefine beauty. Too preoccupied with the aesthetic, we have created filters for bad lighting and spell-check for our language deficiencies. But off the screen we still look funny in sunlight or can't spell. So we use make up for blemishes--but nothing covers up being ill-informed.
In a year where informed decisions matter more than they ever seem to have before, beauty should be proper syntax and equations with all of the work shown. Eyebrows get to be "on fleek" but what's the cool term for getting an A on a project? For reading the news in the morning? Beauty is a term that needs to be more than aesthetic. Beauty is reclaiming control over you life, is asking informed questions, is watching someone else smile. Human connection, to me, is beautiful.
So put the phone down, pick up a paper, ask questions, don't skip breakfast, really listen to the person next to you. And have a beautiful day.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.