I recall an 11 or 12-year-old lanky, tall-for-her-age, skinny, and extremely not fashionable Nailah standing at her locker collecting books for her next middle school class. A boy came up to me and called me beautiful and it threw me all the way off. Was this kid actually talking about me? I didn’t think I was beautiful and made it up in my head that if I was to call myself beautiful I was being narcissistic or vain.
For the longest time I wouldn’t wear lipstick because I thought my lips were too big and I didn’t want to draw more attention to them. On the other end of the spectrum, I wouldn’t dare wear shorts or short skirts as I pretty much felt naked in them because my legs were long and there weren’t many places making shorts or skirts that worked for the longer legged. The first year I moved to NYC, I gained 30 pounds and managed to keep it on until last year when I had a bad streak of stress which reduced my appetite to next to nothing — a way to lose weight I do not recommend.
A few weeks ago, I wore this look out for date night and felt more beautiful than ever. A lipstick embracing, nipple bearing Nailah was and be out here, confidently. And it’s moments like that which bring me back to those experiences where I couldn’t accept a compliment because I didn’t believe them about myself, or I loathed the natural features that make me who I am to the point where I’d keep them hidden.
Nowadays, I’m a HEAVY lipstick wearer, and I’m still not much of a fan of shorts. This is only because I’m not a fan of styling them. I don’t cringe as much when people call me beautiful or compliment me in general. I mean, I used feel downright embarrassed by them. As for the weight I gained and then lost, I’m content either way. Admittedly more content with being closer to my normal thin self.
Fashion brings me out of my shell. Trying out different styles forced me to really start seeing myself as beautiful and has aided in the confidence I have today to wear a bodysuit with no bra underneath — a regular occurrence now. It all might sound cliche, but this bodysuit was a reminder of how I’ve grown to appreciate and accept my body.
Do you have a piece in your wardrobe that does this for you?
STYLE PHOTOS: MYESHA EVON | EDITED BY NAILAH ALI