You are allowed to take up space. To speak up. To be here, just as you are now. Yesterday, a relative of a friend of a relative made a comment about my hair in jest. About how they couldn't love me because it isn't long enough. "No box, no give." The words are an expression. A thing they say when they see a person that is less than desirable. The last to say it gets the unwanted prize. Typically, these are the kinds of encounters that stay with me. Like a single negative among a sea of positive expression. It stands out. It is set apart. And it is the thing I am drawn to. The one who was brave enough to say it, so it must be true.
Except, I love my hair like this. I love the texture of my matted curls. How my hair springs back when I pull it to show how it's perceived length is deceiving. I love how just being in New York again has made me lose weight so my favorite things fit a little closer. All of the moving to get to wherever. All of the walking and never driving unless I have to take an Uber because walking will make me late. I love my straight leg jeans and my mules and my white tee and my sunglasses. And myself. I loved myself in a moment when someone told me I was unloveable. It was unprecedented. But I was grateful.
When I had a moment to myself again, I grabbed my phone and recorded a reminder to myself:
"You are enough. You are amazing and you are beautiful and anybody who tells you differently does not deserve you. Don't second-guess yourself when someone tells you that you aren't enough because your hair is too short or your ass it too flat or you talk too white or your stomach isn't flat enough. You're amazing. Take up more space. Own your uniqueness because those are the things that make you special. You belong here. You belong everywhere."
After, I went outside with my sister and asked her to take this picture. I wanted to remember how I felt in a moment where someone said I wasn't deserving of love and I proved them wrong because I already loved myself.