the minimalist

The Perfect Imperfection

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It was an OK day at work today. The day was fairly cool in comparison to the other days filled with heat. I received a blog from The Minimalists and it got me thinking about my imperfections. Like everyone else, there are days when I am OK with them. Other days, not so much.

It’s the end of the work day and I’m walking to the compound’s gate and I see a student from a high school close by walking with a man who seems to be “putting argument” to her. She looks very uninterested and only seemingly entertains the conversation because he refuses to stop until he has finished speaking.

I go through the gate and I called to him because his face was all white as if he forgot to wash the soap off. I could not and did not resist the urge to speak with him. While he was walking towards me, I thought to myself, why did you do that you know he will think you’re attracted to him. When he was closer I asked “what is on your face?” His reply was “mummy you waah si seh is a likkle bleaching cream mi rub on.” Please note I am not his mother but Jamaicans (depending on your area of residence) use this word very loosely to address, informally, “older” females. So I asked further, “why?” He looked proud of his answer, “to ketch mi summa colour. Mi kno seh is not summa but mi a get cool fi di Christmas.”

I am looking at this young man and his appearance makes me never want to see him on a lonely Street during the day much less at night . His hair was brown and looked like two puff gone wrong. Some of the cream had settled on the inner curves of his ears. He is wearing a sweater in this bright warm sunny moment. His dirty denim pants legs are rolled to a few inches above his ankle. He is wearing dirty flip flops and his toenails are dirty, very, very dirty or it could be fungus.

He looks at me and asks “suh mummy yu nuh like it?” I wondered if all of a sudden I had stumbled on the set of Ity and Fancy Cat Show because I thought my expression said it all. Naturally my answer was “no”. He further explains that he likes to have a cool light complexion and that he does it once per year during the summer. That makes no sense to me since we are now heading into winter. Hmm. I guess now is an exception. I expressed concern about him not loving his own colour and that in only bleaching his face so he will look multicoloured. This in no way phased him and he assured me he was bleaching his entire body and that’s what he likes to do. His last statement on the matter was “bwoy mummy in a few weeks time yu nah go kno seh is me.” He wanted to know what my occupation is and to let me know he upholsters furniture. I bid him farewell and walked to the bus terminus.

I began to think and realize that he was groomed to believe that his skin colour is an imperfection. For years I thought that my wide gap and twisted front teeth are imperfect and ugly and I never smiled. I never laughed of loud because I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable when others saw the twisted gap teeth. A recent Facebook conversation sprang into my head, it spoke to studs/butches whose lesbian lovers and close friends refer to them in the masculine gender (he, him) and why that was an issue to outsiders.
Imperfection takes on so many different faces. It could be a freckle, acne, wrinkles, psoriasis or even your gender. The point is, in some form or another, we all see ourselves as imperfect and we try to change it if we can.

The question I have is, what makes one type of imperfection OK to change and not others? We encourage and counsel individuals having an issue with their biological gender to seek the change their hearts truly desire and we ridicule and discourage persons who bleach their skins. Why? Bleaching is very hazardous to the skin. I’ve seen what I call “the melting phase”. We are willing to build offices dedicated to helping those who choose to change their sex or physique to match their inner feelings why can’t we do the same for bleachers?

Yes, you can argue the side effects but bear in mind that every change comes with side effects some more lasting than others. This cannot be the case of the least of two evils. I often wonder what their upbringing consisted of and if it had any bearing on how they see themselves. I love imperfections. I love my perfect imperfection. I smile for the camera as often as I can because until I can come up with J$500,000.00 (US$5,000.00) to make some more needed changes to my front teeth, I will. have to live with them. So I smile. Widely too.

Get in the habit of loving yourself just the way you are now so that when the change comes you are prepared and ready to handle it. If you can’t love your previous body how will you accept your present body. Stop looking for flaws. Just try to be the best you. You are perfectly perfect.