Every morning, I wake up and say the same thing: “Thank you God for another day.” Thank you for everything operating the way it did when I went to bed last night. Thank you for organs and parts that function properly and the little things, like eyelashes and fingernails. Thank you that–even though my body doesn’t look the way I want it to–it works the way I need it to.

Then God and I share a little chuckle and I throw the covers back to run headfirst into the day ahead. I’m not much of a routine-follower—I can barely keep up with TV shows I genuinely like to watch, much less a daily regimen of any kind—but that’s the one constant in my everyday life. I praise God for being healthy and strong when I wake up.

Then I turn around and slap my Creator in the face because I spend the day exerting my bad habit of comparing myself to other women. I wish my hair cooperated like this one’s does. I think that chick’s smooth complexion is so pretty and long for mine to be, too. There’s another woman’s put-together look that I, ever living out the stereotype of the frazzled writer and editor, just can’t seem to achieve. I mean, hair flawless, skin perfect, teeth like something out of a Colgate ad—before the Photoshop touch-ups.

And then, bless the Lord, there’s me.

First of all, something’s always greasy on my face. If it ain’t my nose, it’s the center of my forehead. And if it ain’t the center of my forehead, it’s my eyelids. Who in the hell has greasy eyelids? I wanna know. While I’m thinking about it, let me pull out my miraculous MAC and take a dab at them before I blind a poor bird flying overhead. I don’t need PETA people coming for me.

More than anything, though, I measure my body against the beautiful women I see daily here in DC. Wish I would’ve known before I moved here that being stacked and shapely was a citizenship requirement. On the platform waiting for the train the other day, for example, I saw a sista about my age with a brickhouse body that would bust her right to the front of the line at any video shoot. Man, I thought to myself, must be nice to have that figure.

In the midst of my daydreaming, I propped my hand on my side and almost threw my fool self on the nasty Metro floor. I know full well I ain’t got no hips. My palm slid right on off because it didn’t have anywhere to stop. So I gangsta-leaned against the wall instead, certain that my hourglass-shaped homegirl over there could host her hand, my hand, and maybe somebody else’s with no problem at all. Not that she’d want to do that, but at least she’d have the option.

I probably end up girl watching as much as guys do, and I don’t wave a rainbow flag by any stretch of the imagination. They’re lusting, I’m envying.

I’ve never been enamored with the outer Janelle. There was never really an opportunity for me to be. Those folks whose parents raise them up to not have a filter and say exactly what’s on their minds kept me abreast of my physical shortcomings when I was coming up. They didn’t let nothing slip past them and gave me a full report about it, as often as they could.

My big lips. My buck teeth. My bad skin. My chunky body. My subpar hindparts. We all know brothers will call somebody out if they don’t think she has enough booty. And I stayed getting called out. But when I’d go home, all hurt and dejected because somebody had teased me that day, my mom’s reaction was always the same: concentrate on school, get good grades, just ignore them.

So I grew up having been the smart girl, the talented girl, the funny girl, the nice girl, but never being the pretty girl–the confident girl, the girl that everybody wanted to get with, the girl who got guys’ attention. So now, it’s difficult to receive the compliment of being called beautiful. My boyfriend’s been trying to convince me, but it’s hard to reverse 20-some years of being told the complete opposite, especially when that mess from grade school is on constant mental replay.

I sure thought I would be over this by now. I’m good and grown, with bills and taxes and a FICA score. But I’m still weighing myself against pretty women like the awkward little girl I was once upon a time, oohing and aahing over the Miss Black America pageant.

I’m working on it, though I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to strut into a room and own it, just from my look alone. But personality? Now I got a lot of y’all gorgeous brickhouse chicks on that, hands down. Shoot, if personality was booty, I’d be Bria Myles.

The blessing is I worked overtime to make my 12-year-old daughter know from the time she was a toddler that she is cute just like she is. The child has greater body confidence than I ever did at her age, and truth be told, probably has more than I do now. That’s a wonderful thing because I don’t ever want her to look at someone else and feel like she’s less than. I want her to be able to appreciate another woman’s beauty but see the distinctive gorgeousness of her own. Like bam! Me too, boo.

Sometimes, just to be crazy, I’ll cruise over to a plastic surgeon’s website and look at all of the wonderful advancements modern science has made in the way of chiseling a woman’s body into a perfected piece of art. If the good Lord didn’t stack you up, a licensed reconstructive surgeon sure enough can. I fantasize about chatting with Metro Girl, hands on both of my brand spankin’ new hips for no good reason at all. Just steady talking, switching hands, and perching them on my new hindparts like I’m doing the Macarena. Me and her, talking about whatever it is that Coke-bottle shaped chicks talk about.

But back in reality, where I need to be, my extreme makeover needs to start on the inside because that’s where the core issue is. That’s the real procedure.

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  • meh

    The Five Love Language’s official site also has assessments to discover your love language: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love/

    I highly recommend the book, too.
    It’s one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time.

  • meh

    Oops. I comented on the wrong post.

  • I completely understand where you are coming from and I have always been told I have a nice body, but with me it’s not the body, it’s my actual looks. I try my best not to compare myself to other women and sometimes I can appreciate different types of beauty, but then their are other times, I guess at my low moments, I compare myself and feel less than.

  • Elaine

    I grew up with the same thing, but on the whitey side. I have hips and an ass, but that was completely uncool and I always wanted to be a shapeless stick girl. It’s only been later in life that I’ve begun to love myself. So next time you see that girl on the metro, realize she might be thinking the same thing about you and your body.
    (BTW I can’t wait to raise any children I may have the way you are. It’s awesome!)