When I was growing up, I went through perhaps the longest ugly duckling phase that anyone has probably had to endure. Not only did I ALWAYS have a very ample derriere, too ample for a bookwormish kid at a predominately white elementary, middle and then high school- but I always had glasses that were always a little TOO big and bookish, and I always wore skirts- even in the dead of winter. My grandfather, the head of a small Pentecostal church in the country wasn’t about having females walking around in clothes meant for men. The day that I did get to wear jeans to school- my father, undecidedly UNPentecostal put his foot down- I felt that God was punishing me- as no sooner had I arrived to my second period class in my new white jeans that I officially “became a woman” -staining and imprinting the moment indeliably on my 10 year old psyche. It was a horrible day and I did not put on another pair of pants until I was 18 years old. These days, I rarely wear skirts which I believe is pretty normal for women with backgrounds such as mine. I’ve had enough skirt wearing to last a lifetime, for real and for true. Add my general sense of awkwardness to the fact that I stood out as the girl who always wears skirts- hell that would have broken a lesser person in their very formative years I would think. I thank God for my grandmother who made me feel beautiful even at a time that I felt anything but. I really truly thank God for her. I guess I was about 13 when one day after walking across the lawns to get into her home, my grandmother made a little fuss and said “I was wondering who that beautiful girl was walking around outside!” Of course when she said it, I peeked out the window to see if this beautiful girl was still roaming around because surely she wasn’t talking about me. How could she possibly have been. Coming from my grandmother, who was and still is, one of the most beautiful women in the world- that was more than a compliment. When we used to pass around photos of my grandmother in her youth – we always marvelled at how perfect her hair always was, how perfect her outfits were- she looked like a young Lena Horne in her day. How could someone so perfect find me, with my large Sally Jessy Raphael glasses and long skirts beautiful? It was unheard of. Over the years, I have learned to be comfortable in the skin that I’m in, and cultivate my own version of “beautiful”. I know that when I am happy, I feel beautiful. When I am smiling- I feel beautiful. I have learned to concentrate on the beauty that is inside me which is far greater than any physical beauty that I will ever posess and I find that it really does spill over into the outside. My booty is still too big, but its ok, because although its big, honey you better believe I keep it moving! I feel happy with the woman I’ve become. And my beautiful grandmother in all her wisdom, cracked the shell way back when I just a young egg and at my most awkward. This weekend, when I was visiting the family- I tried somewhat of a new look which i was nervous about. After the church service, when I went to greet my grandmother- her beautiful little eyes danced, and she grabbed my hand and kissed my cheek and gleefully remarked ” Look at this beautful woman in front of me!” and my heart spilled over. Not because of any sense of vanity or anything of the sort. My heart spilled over because I am in a truly happy place in my life for the first time in a long time- at peace with myself, and those around me- and a tiny part of me likes to think that the beautiful woman that stood before my grandmother this weekend was smiling back at her, from the inside out.