This Is Me. This Is The Truth.

beauty without filters
Photo credit: Phemelo Molefe

I must have thought that this picture was not so pretty when I first took it but I remember loving my hair when I looked in the mirror that day. It was beautiful, uncombed and glorious in its natural form. I didn’t agonise over it, in fact all I did was pull a tuft here, a tuft there, and I went to work, just like that. Here’s the even bigger deal to some: with no makeup.

I do that, often. I go to work with completely natural, uncombed hair, and no makeup, and guess what? I am completely comfortable in my skin.

The problem is, sometimes, ever so briefly, I see myself through the lens of, ‘Girlfriend, if you would just put on a little makeup every day, you would have a man by now.’ Or more recently, the stinging, ‘Why did you agree to write an article about this photo? Don’t do it.’

I’m human, and yes, statements like this sting a bit, but here is the other bigger truth. I like my face. I really do. I know I am not the prettiest girl in the world. There are perhaps billions prettier than me, but this is MY face. It reflects back the beauty of my mother and my sisters and immortalises my dad’s darker complexion and ever friendly face.

The other side of the story is that some have thought that my bare face is made up. I remember being late for a church class once. The teacher made a passive- aggressive remark implying that I had been late because I was busy putting on my face. I was flattered and annoyed at the same time.

More recently, about two weeks after I had taken this picture, I saw the beauty in it and posted it to Facebook with the caption, ‘I like this picture, it’s the truth.’ The response was bigger than I expected. I got many positive affirmations about it, one vaguely derisive comment, and one negative reaction. Given all these experiences, who am I to believe?

Well, one thing my 37 years of life has taught me is that what counts is what you want to achieve, what you feel, what you’re working for, never what others say or what they want to impose on you. Yes, it’s a rough road to self-acceptance and calm, and the journey continues. While I have been foolish enough to believe the naysayers at some point, I am learning to accept my truth, and that truth is freeing.

This is me, it’s the truth. #NoFilters

Read more about the madness of beauty standards