A Black Marilyn Monroe: Living as an Outlier
The fun fact I like to tell people is I have the same body dimensions as Marilyn Monroe. She was a sex symbol, why can’t I be? And then I walk past a mirror and that question is answered. I see the way my knees cave inward because of my cerebral palsy. The way my feet are flatter than the earth and my skin-and-bone lower legs. In my eyes, I look like the way kids draw their siblings when they want to be mean to them.
”I see the way my knees cave inward because of my cerebral palsy.”
I see myself as that awkward outlier. Throughout my life, I was always comparing myself to my classmates. Being the outlier felt inescapable. As a kid, I was faced with makeup, boys, tight uniform skirts and all the Ugg boots imaginable. Being a disabled 12 year old whose parents refused to buy anything name brand, I could not conform to any of the trends the other girls in my class did. It was horrible. If only I had known that none of this mattered, I wonder if I’d still have felt trapped in this world of exclusion because I could not fit in.
Fast forward to high school, after finally realizing that Uggs don’t go with every outfit, I was hopeful. But NAH. Instead of not wearing the proper shoes, I was being told “I walked like a drunk prostitute after a long night”. These are actual words said to me in the middle of a quiz by a guy who later slid into my DMs after I posted a bikini snap over break. I was mortified. My confidence level shot to the pits of hell. Constantly, I was told, “why do you walk this way? When are you going to fix yourself? You would be hot but it would be hard to watch you walk.”
“why do you walk this way? When are you going to fix yourself? You would be hot but it would be hard to watch you walk.”
Now, as a 19 year old girl, dealing with the stresses of college, crushes, and what an alcohol limit is, the last thing I needed was more to feel ashamed by. And yet, I do. Every day, I walk through campus, mesmerized at the way normal people walk. The way others legs are equal in size, not tainted with scars from surgery. Scars from cutting, hoping if I sliced enough times they would fix themselves. I reread texts from boys, rambling on about how my boobs and ass are sexy, but my walk makes them uncomfortable, so it is easier for them to ghost me. I don’t see myself as beautiful. I could be told by the queen Michelle Obama herself and, quite honestly, I’m not sure I would believe her.
“I don’t see myself as beautiful. I could be told by the queen Michelle Obama herself and, quite honestly, I’m not sure I would believe her. “
I wish I could go on and tell you that I have a newfound level of confidence. But friends, the battle between my self-esteem and I just continues – with my self-esteem losing each time. Simple things like getting up for class everyday is a damn challenge because I’m always worried that people will judge me. I worry about if I’m smart enough to be in the same class as my peers. I worry about the people around me, wondering if I will ever have the same kind of relationship as they do. Honestly, it is exhausting to constantly compare myself to the people around me, whether I actually know them or not.
“I want to be able to end this article by saying that I’m going to work harder to love my body, I really do. However, I must give the honest truth”
I want to be able to end this article by saying that I’m going to work harder to love my body, I really do. However, I must give the honest truth and say that I am doing my best. One day, the man of my dreams will sweep me away, I will laugh on our fancy patio, drinking an Arnold Palmer and watching my beautiful children run around. I will have the body confidence of Beyoncé and nobody can tell me otherwise. Until then, I cry when I pass myself in the mirror and stare at my old scars until the memories return. I eat bags of M&Ms and poke my prodding stomach. But hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?