Sunday, November 16, 2008


Erykah Badu dropped her album Mama's Gun back in 2000. My favorite song on the album is called "Cleva".

Now I like many other women, and women of color in particular, have struggled with self-esteem. A particularly traumatic fifth grade experience which involved being called ugly on a daily basis coupled with the fact that no one at home reinforced or even told me that I was beautiful (often implying that my sister was the pretty, outgoing one and I was the smart, quiet one), and a mother who probably struggles with her own self-esteem issues, left my self-esteem in the gutter. At one point, I would look at every other girl in the street and just know they were more beautiful than me. I just knew when walking with friends that guys were checking them out and not me--unless they were looking at my breasts or my booty. I would avoid mirrors afraid and ashamed to catch a glimpse of myself. My behavior also corresponded with how I felt about myself--including wearing provocative clothing and a "take what you can get" and "put up with a whole lot of shit to keep him" mentality with men.

Slowly but surely, I've been working on my healing and it has been a long haul, let me tell you. It is not easy to reverse years of negative thinking. But it's possible. And it's freeing. And I'm so grateful I've been able to do it. Now, there are times that I slip back a bit. Like when at 10 months postpartum, still none of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit. Like when I realized my locks were thinning again and I would have to cut all my hair off. I know it's harder to look feminine and chic with short hair and for a while there I was whining about looking like a guy. But yesterday, the hubby cut my hair into a dark caesar and gave me a rounded hairline. I expected to look in the mirror and be upset but the opposite happened: I love it. It looks very very feminine and classy. I even had a vision of myself, a full-professor, teaching, dressed to the nines, flawless rocking this style. So while I would love long hair, I am coming to embrace the short hair and being "all right with me" in every way. Yes, there are things I'd love to improve like my skin and losing weight and a better wardrobe but I have never been more sure that I am beautiful and good--and not in some cheesy, "fake it till you make it" way. And that feels good. So yes, as I save up the money to improve things about myself (encouraged in part by a blog by Khadija at Muslim Bushido), it's not like how it used to be, where the exterior things pumped me up. I'm pumped up from the inside and just want to make it easier for others to see just how beautiful I am. See, I was raised to think saying good things about yourself was vain and conceited (and even typing this I feel chided in a way but whatever). This world says awful things about me every day. I refute and challenge those things with right thinking and an assurance that, I'm "all right with me".

Oh, "Cleva" resonates with me so much I could have written it myself. My hair. My "ninnys". My dress. The "little pot in my belly". But I can sing the hook to Ms. Badu's song Cleva without an eyeroll or any twinge of doubt now. I couldn't do that 8 years ago when the song came out. Oh, I sing it loud and strong too, because if you didn't know, I can "sang" . . . .lol, no shame in telling the truth about that either. :)

This is how I look without makeup
And with no bra my ninny's sag down low
My hair ain't never hung down to my shoulders
And it might not grow
Ya' never know

But I'm clever when I bust a rhyme
I'm cleva always on ya' mind
She's cleva and I really wanna grow
But why come you're the last to know?

I got a little pot in my belly
So now a days my figure ain't so fly
My dress ain't cost nothin' but seven dollars
But I made it fly
And I'll tell ya why

But I'm clever when I bust a rhyme
I'm cleva always on ya' mind
She's cleva and I really wanna grow
But why come I'm the last to know?

Alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright yeah

Alright with me
Said that I'm alright with me
Said that I'm alright with me
Said that I'm alright with me
Said that I'm alright with me
Said that I'm alright with me


80sBaby70sSoul said...

Thank you for that! I really need to break out my old CDs because this song is soooo uplifting and it brings back such good memories.

You know I am preparing to join you on the shaved head hing. I'm waiting until the spring equinox (March 20th...Just enough time for me to lose some weight!)since it will be a wonderful time of rebirth.

First I'll need to figure out how to put on make-up (natural/organic of course) and invest in some great jewelry.

I'm glad your hair came out to your liking. I knew it would be great!

Tiffany said...

Thanks for this post. I needed to hear this today. I need to be alright with me. Luv Badu.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Too bad we caouldn't hear you break this down with your cleva twiston E. Badu, but maybe next time. :-)

But I found out when you finally get alright with you...everything else gets alright!


80sBaby70sSoul said...

Hey...just long does it take for you to grow an inch or 2 after the caesar?

Anonymous said...

What a great song! I am glad to hear you are making peace with your hair, I am having a twinge of jealousy (in a good way) since I miss my own TWA. To be able to wash and go in 10 mins especially with little ones is devine.

I have been struggling with own bra-strap length locs, since they require so much time. Anyway a post like this reminds me that we all need some self-acceptance.

Chi-Chi said...

Oooh, Nya . . . come over to the dark side! Wearing my hair this short is liberating but also kind of pulls the confidence out of me by force. You simply have to have a strong presence for it to work! I agree--Spring Equinox is a wonderful time for rebirth! We should work on figuring out makeup together if we can cuz your girl has no idea. Oh, and my hair sometimes stops growing so I can't really predict how long it will take to grow this out. It grows by leaps and bounds for a while then stops, falls out and breaks. Maybe TMI but the last time I shaved my armpits was July. And I basically have a bit of peach fuzz grown back. I'm going to another dermatologist this morning.

Tiffany, I love Ms. Badu too although I haven't quite grown to love her newer stuff.

OG, never a truer word spoken: when you finally get alright with you...everything else gets alright! Amen.

BGIM, yes, slowly but surely I'm making peace with my hair. It's what I've got. I am definitely, definitely feeling the low maintenance. Even the TWA was a little cumbersome for me because wetting my hair made my scalp hurt/burn and combing dry hair? Well, you know how that is. Not fun. I hope you can find some peace with your locks!! Though the short hair is growing on me, I wouldn't mind trading you for some bra-strap length locks! :)

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