I was an odd child. A child going through an identity crisis trying to see how white I could act or deciphering what percentage of black I was. In between all that, I was Muslim. During those times, who knew what that was supposed to mean…
I was heavy into makeup way before the makeup boom we see now was “in.” Not many wore it back then. You might have seen an occasional girl wearing a light wing line or some clear lip gloss, but nothing heavy. That wasn’t “in.” I wore foundation that was clearly too light for my caramel complexion and glitter on my cheeks like a mermaid. People thought I was weird. And I was.
At that time, there weren’t mainstream dark eyeshadow palettes. I was a creative kid and had a dark lipstick palette. I was feeling mischievous so I dug my finger into the mixture and smeared it on my lids then on my lips. I was this deep, dark seductress. I think I might have been 14 at the time.
Mom called my name from the bottom of the stairs. I slowly crept into the light. She gasped. “Amerra, what is that on your face?”
“Makeup,” I said with my arms crossed.
Mom didn’t like the makeup I wore. She didn’t like that kind of expression. She just didn’t get it.
I wore black nail polish and lace gloves. I wore miniskirts over my jeans and heavy eyeliner. I was heavily insecure, but you’d never know. The kind of girl that’d cuss out your grandmother. I was driven and educated. Obnoxious and funny.
For those who didn’t know me, my style stood out. Many Muslims didn’t agree with it. I was deemed a ‘hoe’ because of the way I dressed when, in reality, I was much less of a hoe than their fully-covered daughters…but that’s another story completely.
I don’t care what anybody says, the world has been stacked against me and my unparalleled uniqueness. This world, this society, the way it thinks and moves wasn’t built for people like me. And we already know why. We see it every day on the cover of magazines and plastered on billboards.
I’ve never fit into any specific categories of Muslim-ness. Of beauty. Of education. Of Black-ness. And I don’t plan on it anytime soon.
For so long, I’ve taken my complexities and thought of them as hindrances.
I was tired. Angry. Mentally ill. People were tired of me and I tired of them.
I needed a change. And, in order to change, I had to rewire my entire mindset.
Instead of viewing my intersections as negatively as how others viewed them, I decided to try a different approach. What if I could embrace those differences? Create a path containing my truths instead of someone else’s version of what I should be?
Why is this world so obsessed with making people fall in line? Why aren’t we groomed to think outside the box and embrace differences? Well, for one, it’s easier to control individuals who don’t have their own opinions. Secondly, it’s easier to sell people things who constantly follow trends and feel the need to keep up with the “now.”
It’s so important to always, always embrace your differences–those quirks and idiosyncrasies. They make you original, one of a kind. You’ll have people trying to change your outlook. Change the way you dress and how you speak and how you view the world from your lens. Don’t let them.
People were uncomfortable with my differences then and certainly are uncomfortable now. I’ve chosen to take that core value of expression and exploit it. Scream it from the rooftops. Wear it as a badge. But being your true self doesn’t come without its downsides. I get attacked with every new feature that sprouts. I get called “fat,” “disgusting,” “gross,” “not Muslim,” among other harsh choice words and phrases.
What these trolls fail to understand is that I’ve been through a hell of a lot of shit in my life. The absence of parents. Friends that allowed jealousy to rip apart our relationships. Doors slammed in my face. Bill collectors on my line. A failed marriage.
I’ve already been through hell and back. I’ve been through decades of self-doubt and loathing and hatred. I’m at a place where I can finally be secure with myself and a stupid comment from a faceless nut job from behind a computer screen won’t catapult me back to that insecure girl.
So, to all my weirdos, black girls who listen to 80’s rock, artists, unmarried Muslim girls being pestered by their families, trans, fatties and dark-skinned individuals who are constantly teased, do not try to fit into a mold, allow your uniqueness to always carry you because the very people who are “making fun” of you for these intersections want to secretly be you…