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By Janelle Graham
For years I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I’d zoom past mirrors in restaurants, homes, and hotels as if running from my reflection meant I could actually run from myself.
Since my husband met me, my body has changed, but I grew up as a chubby child. However, after I got married, I began to gain more weight and the “extra baggage” made it harder for me to show affection to my husband. The hesitation was because I lacked comfort in my skin. Hugging him around his neck with my arms hanging or trying to sit close to him, but my sides overpowered my space were not feelings I knew how to overthrow.
There is a universal understanding that one must love themselves before genuinely loving anyone else. My husband would ask me if I love myself as if he could sense the disconnect I had with my own body. I would assuredly answer him, “Yes, I love myself.” But looking back, I know it wasn’t true.
Then one day, the woman who steps with me toward righteousness, my sister-in-law (better known as Sis), gave me a simple piece of advice that would change my life. She told me to buy a full-length mirror.
“You need to see all of you, from head to toe,” she said. “You need to look into your eyes and truly forgive yourself – talk to yourself. Stare into those pretty brown eyes, Sis.”
I was hesitant to take the leap of buying a mirror that would reveal all of me. What was I afraid of seeing? Who was I worried I’d see? Accountability was never my most favorable attribute. It requires honesty. Nonetheless, where I am in life is shedding this flesh and amplifying my spirit, thus helping me move in love’s direction.
A full-length mirror now hangs over our bathroom door.
When I first saw all of me, I just stared at myself. Taking a second to turn my body from side to side and move up close to glance into my eyes. Initially, I smirked at my reflection, giving myself kudos for completing the task of purchasing and installing this new home addition. Then as I went to open the door and rush out of the bathroom, I returned to my reflection and slowed down—no more running, J. Now the real work begins.
I now see that my body is a testimony of my journey. I am intentionally handcrafted by The Most High. Standing at 5 feet and 11 inches and weighing 266 pounds, I am a champion, an Amazon woman, my dad’s big strong gyal. In my mirror, I unlearn lies that I am ugly or worthless from those who once violated me in actions and words. I forgive myself for not honoring my inner and outer beauty. In my mirror, I see why my man loves me.
I am thankful for my simultaneously jumbo and deflated muffin top that has protected our little human and serves as a motivator to eat to live and get active with my body again. An overhanging belly that I always tried to suck in hangs with love with a waist bead around it now that I no longer think waist beads are too glamorous for a woman my size.
The revelations of my self-worth do not only come from observing my broad Graham nose, heavenly brown eyes, dark moles freckling my face, full lips, thick eyebrows, large breasts, curved waist, growing bootay, thunder cellulite thighs, or my long goldilocks.
There are three sticky notes and a quote from a teabag tapped around my mirror. The quote leveling with my eyes: Give onto others and give yourself the same attention.
Green sticky notes boldly surround the golden frame of my mirror. One note reflects my relationship with time: I am thankful of the past, I believe in Yah’s promises of the future, I am present in the gift The Most High has gifted me (us) today.
Another note speaks on my beauty: I am beautiful inside and out. Today I am my greatest self, but greater is Elohiym that is in me.
The third sticky note represents Scripture from Proverbs 16:3 — Commit to The Most High whatever you do, and Yah will establish your plans.
Each day, seeing my whole self motivates me to continue detoxing and praying to be all The Most High has called me to be. And now, each rising, my mirror reflects broad gap-tooth smiles from my daughter and me after we brush our teeth, “Cheessseee!”
Now when I stand before the mirror, I stare at my fabulous self, checking out every curl and tuck from a distance and up close. In my mirror, my posture straightens. I laugh, joke, smile, dance, spit poetry, and cry in my mirror. In my mirror, I am myself. In my mirror, I love myself.
Janelle Graham is a writer who believes transparency brings true healing. She enjoys nature, poetry, spending time with her family, and listening to This Ain’t for Everybody. She blogs about her journey as an awakening Hebrew Israelite woman. Read more at www.janellegraham.com and follow her on Instagram @PoeticPuff.