Vision

dark girl

The little girl closed her eyes as she stepped into her bedroom.  Outstretching her hands, she felt the cold, smooth wood of her dresser in front of her and knew she was facing the mirror.  She took a deep breath and wished as hard as she could.  She hoped that today would be the day she transformed.  Every night, she dreamed that she would become a princess.  Everyone knew princesses were beautiful. Long, silky blond hair, tumbling in waves down their backs.  Big, sparkly blue eyes.  Small upturned noses and cherry lips.  Ivory skin.

Please. Please. Please. Please.  She whispered inside.

She opened her eyes, and her stomach fell.  Nothing had changed.  Her skin was dark brown, her hair thick with dark, rough kinky curls.  Her nose broad and unwieldy.  Ugly.  There was no need to look anymore, or wish.  She wasn’t a princess.  That was the day she threw the blanket over the mirror.

Years later, she removed the blanket.  Her breath caught.  She was changed. A princess at last.  It wasn’t her face or her skin or even her hair that was different.  It was her vision that had transformed.

For Story a Day and The Daily Post

MWC – Fangirl

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I’m sitting on a bench overlooking the dock, waiting to meet Misty for the first time.  We’re both fangirls who kept running into each other in the  virtual world.  After many, many hours of late night IM convos, we learned that we lived within an hour of each other and decided to meet IRL.

A woman is walking down the sidewalk, her face is scrunched, her eyes searching.  She’s obviously looking for someone.  She’s wearing a Supergirl t-shirt, just like me, as planned.  She walks past without noticing me at all.

“Misty?”

She stops and turns to face me, flushed, and I can tell I’m not what she’s expecting.

“Keri?”

I nod and stand, and we embrace.  We immediately start chattering nonstop about our latest geek-girl obsessions, but inside, my disappointment lingers.  I wonder if the day will come when everyone will look at me and truly see me, instead of being blinded by the color of my skin?

The theme for this week’s Miniature Writing Challenge is freedom.

The Myth of the Respectable Woman

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No respectable woman would behave that way!

How many times have I heard someone, usually a man, make that remark, usually referencing a woman who had the audacity to be imperfect?   In their minds, a woman should be honorable, intelligent, well-educated, feminine, a great cook and homemaker, a devoted wife and giving mom, healthy and athletic, but curvy and sensual and able to able to put away a hearty meal, one that she cooked of course, vulnerable and fragile whenever it suits a man’s ego, but also strong, independent, ambitious and career-oriented.  Anything less, and she can be expect to be labeled a poor role model and bad example, an embarrassment.  If you are able to be all these things everyday of your life – you have my adoration and undying respect.  But, I realized a long time ago I was never going to be all of those things at once to everyone, and I’m perfectly okay with that.  In fact, I’m overjoyed.

Usually men who make comments like this have a very twisted view of what womanhood actually is. Women are either playthings to be used and discarded at their discretion or paragons of virtue and respectability.  They’re pigs.  Do we really want these men dictating how women should behave?  It’s absurd.  Besides, it’s okay to be flawed.  I love creating female characters who are complex and multi-dimensional, who have secrets and dark pasts, who make mistakes.

When I was younger, I sometimes felt an immense pressure to be respectable.  I judged myself so harshly.  When relationships failed, I blamed myself 100%.  I wasn’t enough.   Not gifted enough in the kitchen, not skinny enough, not smart enough or ambitious enough.  Not respectable enough.  Now I’m much easier on myself.  I know that failure is a part of the learning process of life.  I also know my value as a woman is not linked to my ability to hold on to a man, as some would have you believe.  I am enough.

Some days I eat salad for lunch, make it to the gym after work, then go home and cook a cozy dinner for two, others I duck home early, order greasy take out and watch bad television.  I’ve put more emphasis on being healthy and strong than skinny.  I strive to be a great wife, but other days I miss the mark there too.  I’m not a mom yet, and I’m fine with becoming one on my timetable, not the world’s.  I’m not where I’d like to be in my professional life, but I’ll get there.  I found out just being me, and the journey of figuring out exactly who I am without judging myself or caring if anyone is judging me, is a lot more fun.

Summer Brown

self portrait

I’ve learned to love the skin I’m in.  Once, I avoided my reflection, close inspection.  So pliable, when the world ruled my hue undesirable.  Searching in the pages of Glamour and Vogue, for platitudes in a songwriter’s prose.  For someone to deem me beautiful, acceptable, lovable.

One day, I looked into my dark eyes, my matching skin in surprise. Lovely, summer brown, golden, kissed by the sun.  All of my sisters, be they dark, light, or white.  May we all find beauty, through our own eyes.