Thursday, February 09, 2006

luh dat booty

i stood in the full length mirror wearing an outfit i thought would be nice for my upcoming poetry feature. i got the outfit years ago, probably as a christmas present from my mom, who buys all my cutest things. i experimented in my mind with accessories i owned, trying to figure out if i needed to get something new... actually, i already own the stuff that would make the ensemble work for what i was going for. but part of the outfit is this sweater that i've worn quite often in recent months. and i didn't want to wear it, again, on the night of my feature. it's an important night for me, and i want to feel kind of brand new and special. it'll be my first feature ever, at the first place i ever read my stuff for strangers, and it'll be the first time i perform in my new year, since my birthday is two days before. so i decided to go shopping for something to take the sweater's place.

easier said than done. first of all, everything i found didn't work, so far as color and style and preference were concerned. (if you're a guy, and you're still reading

i realized

i was


to hide

this, thank you for being patient with me, i'll get out of the feminine fashion nitpicking as quickly as i can.) secondly, i was too busy being a hypocrite to broaden my horizons. let me explain: the outfit i intended to wear clings to me - to every curve and bend. i generally don't shy away from that if i'm wearing jeans and a top, but that's because that's casual. this outfit isn't as casual, and the material is such that my booty is right. there. i didn't realize it until i'd been in the mall wearing my feet and my patience out for a couple of hours, but the main purpose of the sweater was to cover my hindparts, tone down the outfit, and hide my body. i was on the phone discussing my little shopping adventure with my mom when i realized that i was trying to hide my body. there was this little sweater i coulda used with the outfit, but i decided not to buy it, 'cause my booty would still be exposed, and that's when i realized that i'm a hypocrite.

see, my mom - my best friend and most trusted life advisor - didn't miss a beat when i told her about my desire to cover my butt. she could see if i had a really gross butt, but i don't, by any stretch of the imagination, so why would i be trying to

do you, and



hide it? she reminded me of how i would complain when she toned down her personal professional style on her new job, because the women weren't as stylish as she was accustomed to being at her old job, and she didn't want to stand out and be talked about. i used to love to check out her stylish and funky outfits - my mom was the best dressed mom i knew (except for maybe miss daisy, who wore suits to work, but anyway)... i would see her compromising her style and tell her, "forget those heffas, mommie. do you, and stop worrying about if they get mad 'cause you cuter than them." now here i was, trying to cover my booty 'cause i didn't want it to be noticed or talked about. trying to cover my outfit, 'cause i didn't want to be overdressed or look like i was trying too hard to be cute for my feature. trying not to be noticeable - which was really silly, considering that i'll be the center of attention for a room full of people for half-an-hour. oh, for shame! i was so embarrassed when i realized my hypocrisy and insecurity. my mom thinks i don't need the sweater - she thinks i shouldn't even wear it. to be honest, even now, i'm not sure what i'll do - we'll see what happens.

anyway, upon realizing that there was no point in trying to hide, i wound up deciding to deliberately put some sparkle into the outfit. i bought accessories that pop. big ones - sparkly ones. noticeable ones. i'll probably wear the sweater until i get warmed up and then take it off at some point, kinda like how when i get to a party i'm a wallflower until i get comfortable enough to start dancing.

and of course, after leaving the mall, i thought about it. and thought about it. see, i'm all about telling other women to love themselves and their bodies and to celebrate what God has endowed them with, 'cause i know that everything else is

the negative side

of humility

telling them otherwise. see, i am the champion of all things self-esteem, and the biggest fan of all things assertive, and i am fond of saying my biggest fear is being afraid of anything. but i have this annoying habit of doing humility habitually. sometimes that's a good thing, but sometimes the negative side of humility has me shooting myself in the foot. i've been known to dismiss the true intent of compliments 'cause i didn't believe in their sincerity. i've been known to linger in a shadow rather than speak up about my own talents and capabilities. shoot, i'd been crafting poems for years before i shared them with other people. i tell people i can't sing when i can (by the way, i didn't say blow, i said sing, and there is a difference). i tell people i don't consider myself a spoken word artist, when i know i have the juice and versatility to do more than read paper poetry from a notebook.

and when it comes to my body, there are just some things i just don't do, out of a desire to be overlooked. as in, don't look this way. don't have an opinion about me.

desire to be


don't comment on me. spare me your criticism. keep it moving. never mind that i really do like my body. never mind that i don't turn away from my reflection when i step out of the shower 'cause i've learned to love and affirm what's there. never mind that there are very few things i want to wear that wouldn't hang well on my frame. but still, there are non-scandalous shirts i don't wear because of how the neck is cut, or non-scandalous dresses and skirts i won't wear because of the location of the hem... shoot, it took my friends years to convince me to wear low rise jeans with tops that showed any stomach at all. imagine, at such a young age, being the diane keaton of my day. pitiful, isn't it? i think so. to my credit, i do try to express myself much more than i did in years past, and to be honest, the poetry scene is helping me to reclaim joyful parts of my self-expression that i'd forgotten about and missed more than i'd realized. and it's showing up in my wardrobe.

i can't, in good conscience, call myself a role model or exhort all the women i know and love to be themselves unashamedly if i can't do the same for myself. physician, heal thyself, right? so i will be using the next few weeks to talk myself out of covering my booty, and to shore up the bravery to confidently be myself, despite what anyone could possibly have to say about my beloved boo- uh, i mean - body.