I first met Charlene in 8th grade drama class. When I heard her last name I immediately went home and told my mom about the other Zimbabwean girl at school. I thought she was the coolest. I’ve always wanted to be like Charlene—cool, confident, and absolutely hilarious. Over the last couple of years I’ve grown to admire Charlene even more. I don’t know how she does it—the confidence, the humor, the energy. She’s so full of life and optimism its enticing. Charlene, never change. Thank you for your kindness, for your talents (I mean your voice is out of this universe). You are a beautiful and vibrant being. Thank you for sharing.
I’ve started this series because through my own self acceptance search/journey I’ve realized that we, as humans, all have problems with our skin suit no matter what it looks like. The point of this series is to confront our flaws AND to highlight our excellence. I hope one day we’ll all be able to wake up and that voice in our mind which lists all our faults on repeat will be much quieter if not silent. The mirror will be less scary. We’ll smile as we pass our gorgeous selves. We’ll have a bounce in our steps. One day we’ll love our bodies exactly as they are right now. We might have bad days . We might have bad weeks. Yet once we unlock that key, that key of self love we’ll know we can get back to a sanctuary within our bodies. Our bodies and our selves are waiting for that love, waiting for that permission to just be. As I said to Charlene, (and as I say to all my future spotlights), be gentle with yourself, you are meeting parts of yourself that you have been at war with.
1. What makes you feel beautiful?
I’m just gonna be completely honest here. I feel beautiful when my makeup and hair are done. I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to those things. Makeup makes me feel more “put together”I think that beauty products make me feel more feminine and woman-like. II know that I’m not supposed to say that but it’s the truth. I’m working on embracing my natural self and I’m getting better at loving the non-glamorous version of myself. Over time, Ive learned that not wearing makeup is okay. I’ve learned that not looking perfect is okay. I used to wear a full-face of makeup every single day to cover my blemishes. Now, i embrace my imperfections. The imperfections make me feel beautiful too.
2. What makes you feel powerful?
3. What would you tell your past self about beauty and bodies?
Oooh this is good one. I have struggled with my weight for years. I would tell my past self to love every bit of myself, even when I was not 100% happy with my body. It is important to have self-love. I would also tell myself to stop comparing myself to others! There is only one you!. I’m still working on this actually. I love wearing makeup, it makes me happy but it us not where all beauty comes from. Beauty comes from within. I think that I would tell myself to work on being a good person instead of focusing on my outer appearance. I would tell myself to treat others with kindness. That’s where true beauty lies.
4. How does your skin color make you feel?
I absolutely love my brown skin. I love the way it glistens in the sunlight. I love representing my culture though my skin. My Zimbabwean mother has always taught me to love the skin i’m in.I actually feel like a snack during summer because I get a couple of shades darker so I feel like a piece of chocolate. Especially when I put the highlight on. OOOOWEEE!
5. How have you struggled with your body?
I have always been a little chunkier than the rest. I used to compare myself to people all of the time. I still do it, instagram can really get to you sometimes lol. My weight fluctuates all of time and I’m still learning how to deal with it. I have learned to love my body through all of the good and bad times. Ive also learned that having curves is okay. I actually really like being curvy now. It took as long time for me to get to this point. All of my newfound self-love came from me realizing my worth. Societal standards have placed so many pressures on women and the way that women look. I had to let go of these pressures to find inner peace. I may not be 100% happy with my body, but I will continue to love my body no matter what it looks like. I was beautiful when I was bigger, I was beautiful when I was smaller, and I am beautiful now in the in-between. It took time to get to this point, but it feels good here. I like it here.
6. Complete this sentence… “In my body is a safe place to be because….”
In my body is a safe place to because it is all I have. I only have one body and it is my duty love every inch of it. I will never have anyone else’s body. My body is worthy of so much love because it is where my soul lies. It is my responsibility to take care of it.
From Charlene, with love.