When I woke up this morning I had a text from my friend S. She sent me a twitter photo with the caption R thought this was you, I did too. It was a photo of a beautiful actress made famous by a well known series. From only that specific angle, we could be twins. Up until last year, I was mainstream pretty enough to have advantage. My life has been sweeter for looking the way a woman should (read: thin, short, pretty, white). No need to argue over the word should; every women out there will agree that life is far less painful when you are thinner, shorter, whiter, and easier on the male gaze.
I was also fairly shallow. I didn’t determine someone’s worth by how they looked, but I was obsessive about my own appearance, inventoried my flaws. I bemoaned gravity and hated my thighs; that had the audacity to be slightly larger than they were at 17. I grew up knowing that my worth was intrinsically tied to the outside package I arrived in. School, friends, society, relationships and media reinforced this at every single turn.
Getting 2nd/3rd degree burns over 10% of your body will be devastating to someone who prioritizes beauty. It will also be illuminating. Was I simply given what I could handle though? Because even after everything, had the accident affected my face, my torso, my sight, I don’t think I’d be the yoga pose, meditating, love yourself, voice I strive to be today. I’m not sure I’m that strong.
That saying god only gives you what you can handle; it used to sound really fucking privileged to me. But looked at a different way: the people you see every day, the ones who are truly struggling? On the corner, at the bus stop, homeless. The ones who have mobility issues and obvious major health concerns. The ones who can’t hide how different they are from the status quo. If god doles out pain only to those who can handle it, then those are the true warriors among us. Let’s all try to be kinder to one another coming up on the holidays in pandemic world; because you never know what the fuck someone is going through on any given day