on the wall,
who’s the.. wait… fairest of them all?
Fairest. Fair in skin? Fair in nature? Fair in life?
The family I grew up with, they were fair. My father was blond, my mother fair-skinned, and my sister has skin like a Barbie doll with beautiful blond hair to match. Don’t get me started on my father’s and sister’s incredible blue eyes.
When I was young I was not fair. Rich brown skin and thick black hair. Eyes so brown they were almost black and apparently crazy buck teeth too. But I didn’t see myself. Stop reading for a second and look straight ahead of you. What do you see? Not yourself, right? Right. When I was growing up I didn’t see myself either and as a tom-boy, I didn’t spend so much time looking in the mirror.
What we don’t see in ourselves however others see in us. I may not have seen myself and certainly did not consciously see myself compared to my family but I was made aware that I was different in so many ways.
I was too loud, too funny, too gangly, too clever, too charming (and now that I’m a grown-up, when did charming become a bad thing?), and definitely too challenging. In short — I was bad. When I was a child I was told I was ‘sexy.’ When I was a teenager I was told I was pretty but my being pretty ‘wasn’t fair.’ The aspects of me I could not change were the very ones I was taught to want to change. The aspects that only if I changed would I finally would finally fit into the world in which I lived.
I’m now an adult with children of my own and I look at their brown eyes. I see their olive skin and hear their boisterous laughter. How could I ask them to change? Why would anyone want them to change?
So many people have asked me what this whole experience is like. I don’t know how to answer that completely, I’m still experiencing it. I do know, however, what it’s like to finally look at my birth family, see myself, and mostly, be loved as I am instead of being asked to change.
It’s the feeling of coming home.