Race. The colour of my skin, the flare of my nostrils, the texture of my hair, the S of my backside. I am none of these; I am all of these. Race. My mother is caramel, my father pure chocolate, and I am hazelnut. They taught me that education and excellence would open any door. I believed it; still believe it. Race. Raised in Nigeria, I live in The Netherlands. I temper the directness of the Dutch with the verbosity I think Nigerians inherited from the British. Race. When I look in the mirror, I see a girl, a woman, a lover, a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, a mentor, a coach, a writer, a warrior — all I have been, all I now am, all I will one day be. When I look in the mirror, I see me. What if my father were Australian and my mother Chinese? Would I still be me?
Timi at Livelytwist
I hate being judged. Who doesn’t? But we still do it, all the time. Where I come from, Pakistan, many of us live in constant fear of what people say or think of us with someone always breathing down your neck. It’s difficult to break away. And the sad part is, I was no different. I labeled people based on how they looked, talked, walked, on their work, race, and beliefs. But now my heart can’t take the burden anymore. I want out of the vicious cycle. Standing in front of this mirror, I rejoice at my diversity as a woman, Muslim, Ghilzai-Punjabi-Pathan, Pakistani, Canadian. I celebrate my many faces. And I keep on against the urge to judge because I’ve been on the other side. The reflection in my mirror is no longer blurry. I can finally see.
Nida On the Road to Inkrichment
As a girl, I wished these Korean eyes were bigger. It hit me that I never wished for blue eyes or brown with long Caucasian lashes. Only that mine were rounder. And there’s this nose, the most displeasing part of my face that I grew to forget as my sense of self took shape around deeper things: my gifts, faith, values. These lines that bracket my mouth, a chronicle of the choices I have made in self-neglect. Always too busy to primp, to nurture Self. And the lines that also tell of things outside my control, Mom’s enviable genes that passed me over. The woman in the mirror is the youngest she will ever be. I see naked imperfection. It is what my boy looks upon everyday. My breath catches. To him, I am the clearest face of God.
Wayfarer on A Holistic Journey
What do you see in the mirror?
113 thoughts on “Mirror, Mirror On The Wall”
Reblogged this on MULIEBRAL VIEWPOINT: and commented:
The analogy of the mirror on the wall is for those who think they are beautiful–possibly the most beautiful of all. But is beauty or race what makes us who we are? Does the physical define the soul? Is physical anywhere near as important as the spiritual (inner man)? Now as I approach 80, I see what I am inside more than what I look like on the outside.
Wow, very touching. And I appreciate knowing your age, Beth. I feel honored you sit among my readers and can share of your wisdom and experiences. The question you ask really is what prompted this post. An African American blogger said he didn’t see race in the mirror. He saw a man. I was fascinated and had to explore. Thanks so much for the reblog.
If only I had listened more and talked less over the years! I was not humble as a young lady. I assumed I was invincible. Now, looking back I see that I was foolish many times.
Funny, because everything I have heard out of you, Beth, has been clear, simple, wise, and profound. Thanks so much for the reminder we (I esp) need.
These are beautiful cameos, all the reflected face of God. They shine internal lights of curiosity, confidence and tranquility. All are rich hues, lovely and poetic, opening deeply fragrant petals of unique flowers: Timi, Nida, Diana.
*Smile* Appreciate the lovely commentary, Susan. Thanks for blessing us.
“All are rich hues” thank you Susan, I really want to see everyone else in this light.
That’s the key – choosing the lenses through which we see.
Thank you for such kind words Susan. You said it perfectly. ‘Deeply fragrant petals of unique flowers’. That’s how every person was made. It’s just life that sort of gets in the way…
Yes it does, doesn’t it! It’s so important to remember who we are at the core – beautiful daughters magnificently and wonderfully made.
SO much beauty and reflection in these powerful and pertinent stories. Each one says so much. Piercing and personal – emotional nakedness. Thank you to all three of you.
Thanks, Diahann. I’m a bit taken aback by the response – yours and the rest. It is helpful (not to mention lovely) to hear back on how this mosaic struck you.
Emotional nakedness . . . Diahann I think that’s what writing my paragraph did to me. And because Diana wanted us to compress our thoughts in a few sentences, I had to look inside, beyond the mirror, to discover what is pertinent to me. Thank you.
This is thought-provoking. Becoming a mother has definitely made me more aware of the way I see my self and my body, since both have been changed drastically. Thank you for this post.
Wow, Sparrow. That is something. “Becoming a mother has definitely made me more aware of the way I see my self and my body”. I would love an elaboration, either here or in a post you put up!
Powerful post! Regardless of race, I think most of us look in the mirror and see imperfections. See stereotypes. Hear the horrible things said about our cultures. You pointed it out in such a beautiful way. 😊
Thanks, Anna. I find your input interesting.
Anna, your comment reminds me of the time when I looked at the mirror and hated my full lips. Why? Because the images of beauty in Vogue & Cosmopolitan, which I read, had thinner lips. Then along came Naomi Campbell on the cover of Vogue mirroring me and validating me.
I’m glad that we see even more diversity in the media today 🙂
Yes, it is wonderful to see more diversity in the media today. You are beautiful, by the way.
I can’t get past seeing “dumb blonde” and “big boobs (real)” even with degrees saying Summa Cum Laude. I’m a work in progress. 🙂
I am a man. My wife is a woman. I don’t care where we were born or what is our race or what is our religion. I lived in four countries i found that there are wonderful people and bad people in each country. i had friends of all races and religions. I am convinced that all talks about race and religion are first of all going from people who want power and money. They want to divide people.
Exactly: good and bad everywhere.
Uh…are you saying I or those who have discussed race here want power and money?
Oh, no! Leaders in many countries, leaders of many tribes, leaders of many religious groups do it for centuries.
Think Ukraine and Russia, Middle East, Balkans, Africa!
It is a big error where a leader of the country says that the country is exceptional! It is terrible when people of the same BASIC religion kill each other daily!
Thanks for the clarification. We (not you and I – human beings, I mean) really do have some serious issues, don’t we?
No doubts about it! We need to learn that WE ARE ONE or all of us will perish!
I agree with JF. I think that to those that (not you, dear Wayfarer, but those that have an issue with people of a certain race, are either afraid of something or want to divide people because they desire power.
I love it, G. You hit upon the fear in your wisdom. I think that lust for power is borne of fear, too. Appreciate having you here.
Hi JF, I can relate to what you’re saying. I think of Rwanda for example, how leaders harped on differences to incite horrible killings. If we embrace our diversity, the world would be a better place. We still have a long way to go, but when we “talk” about these things, exchange ideas, our perspectives change hopefully.
I have friends from around the world, and we cry about the same things. I guess because at our core, we aren’t so different.
You are right! I was born in Odessa (Ukraine). Ukranians and Russians lived there together for centuries. They fought Nazis together. Now they kill each other! This came from outside, from a leader of another country.
“friends from around the world, and we cry about the same things.”
Love this. Powerful.
Somehow, as you get older you become more at peace with who you are…
I have also found this to be true as I get older not just in age, but in wisdom
So true. Rod Stewart’s song comes to mind: “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger”
Right. I appreciate the simplicity of this truth, which I see is in part what I was getting at in mentioning that I eventually grew to forget about my pesky nose over more important things.
I enjoyed your post
If I was a mirror and you stood in front of me I’d reflect an image of a beautiful soul who is smart beautiful and spiritually awake.. Oh and a wonderful writer…
Ah — I hate to assume this but I take it you were speaking to me? *Chuckle* I happen to find your commendation true of my partners on this post. =) Thank you so much for staying with me!
The idea of race just did not ever come to mind unless someone else pointed it out while growing. My friends and I were always the united colors of benetton. It is the insecure doing their best to make other the same as them. At least they are trying to unite us all, right?
Nutrition + Fitness = Health
That’s wonderful that you enjoyed such a colorful circle of friends, AD. Yes, many who seek to conform and insist that others do so really have fear and insecurity at root. But there are noble ways to encourage unity out of diversity.
Focusing on what we have in common and how we all can mutally coexist is the best way.
Division is exactly what our “enemies” would like to see.
Nutrition + Fitness = Health
ooh. i really enjoyed reading these 3 reflections. there is so much to be learned from each of you.
Warms my heart. Thank you so much.
What beautiful thoughts and writing.
Thank you for sharing 🙂
Appreciate your reflecting back (pun intended) what we gave you. =)
Thank you. Diana has a way of pushing us to find and bring out our best.
I love this…. thank you for sharing!
Thx so much for the reblog and kind intro. =)
Reblogged this on Simply Me and commented:
Please read these 3 stories of honesty from three different girls. So good. So needed. So wonderful and reassuring! Thank you!
Aha! Aha! Aha! I knew it! The three women are beautiful because of their differences not their similarities. Think about it: if we practiced eugenics (God please forbid it), women would all look similar (whichever similar someone chose) and they would no longer be beautiful. It is their distinctiveness, their individuality that makes them beautiful. I spent the whole Race series trying to get women to expand on their differences and there were no takers. Everyone looked at the similarities that bound them together. The series was amazing, without a doubt , and yet that one niggling point bothered me. Why was no one seeking out differences? How can we love each other until we can embrace our differences? How can we leverage our uniqueness and diversity in our careers until we recognize and prize our differences? The 16 part series did an excellent job showing how different and yet successful each person was, and yet as individuals, they “created” themselves by seeking out similarities. Just sayin’
Very beautiful desriptions by each of the women participating in this post. The beauty of each shone through clearly: “I temper the directness of the Dutch …”; “…I rejoice at my diversity as a woman…”; “…I never wished for blue eyes or brown with long Caucasian lashes…”. All expressed embracing their diversity.
Oh, when I look in the mirror my hair is always standing up, my beard needs trimming, but my eyes are bright and surrounded by laugh lines. I’m consistently surprised by what I see, reflecting on how different others see me than I see myself. I cannot, for the life of me, reconcile my feelings with my looks.
Thanks Diana for your hard work, this post and the contibutions of your beautiful participants.
Ok, so you got me literally laughing out loud, Paul – My dear Paul. I have not yet rolled out my summation on the Race but huh, all rightee I embrace your critique. It is most interesting. Will have to think about that one. While beautiful is the last word I would ever attribute to myself, I do love your deconstructive (not unconstructive) assessment of this post:
“It is their distinctiveness, their individuality that makes them beautiful.”
I just love your self-portrait. Finally, I get to imagine sOmething behind these brilliant faceless comments.
” reflecting on how different others see me than I see myself. ” This really has been a most fascinating question for me lately.
And I appreciate the acknowledgmt of the work that went into the attempt at making the post look effortless. My partners in crime put in a lot of rewrites to get it down jUst sO.
Hey Diana – – I find this idea for a post just unbelievably authentic and fascinating. All three strike me to my core but the first few lines of yours really reverberated deeply because I have a daughter adopted from Korea and when I hear this from her, I always sigh and wave my hand as if to say, “You’re YOU. That’s all that matters.” I need to tune in more. Thank you for your recent email. I’ve been going thru a few things that have knocked me a bit sideways so I hope I am not too late to participate. I am definitely in! And now I get a sense of the overall result of what you’re achieving and it’s absolutely luminous!
Intriguing and fascinating glimpse into your life and heart, Stephanie. Wow. Thanks for sharing. Chk your email (again). =)
Appreciate the glowing praise. My partners in crime worked hard.
How could I not love this post? Interesting that I am planning to tackle the issue of not judging others vis-a-vis what we want the mirror to show us.
“what we want the mirror to show us.”
InTerEsting, Nav. Thx for the support.
(And tackle is the word for what you do.)
I see, a wide nose, little sun tags under my eyes, teeth that need braces, and a wasteline that needs thinning out. But I also see a woman of color who loves the Lord, and what’s the most important thing I see? Is God’s creation, and to be happy with it because he hand crafted it just as he wanted me to be. Now the only thing left for me to do is rejoice and be glad in him.
I like what you see in the mirror. I like it even more because I sense acceptance. I like to think that it is easier for others to accept us when we accept ourselves.
Thank you so much, its taken me a long time to get here, but the Lord has made it possible. I agree acceptance of one’s self is critical.
I’m going to plow against the grain – perhaps disappoint readers – in sharing that I don’t believe in the “loving yourself first” mantra. I think we’re all full of ourself. I’m going to pull some Scripture bc Shazza would dig it. When Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor as ourself, He had one command – not two – for us. He was telling us to love others as we already do ourself. But for some reason, the way Timi put to us the acceptance strikes me as true. I love that Shazza and I can accept ourself knowing we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. This helps us move forward to be able to give, not in the hunger to be filled.
You sure do know me D, Timi, I forgot to say thank you for your lovely contribution, it almost made me cry!!! Living in the Netherlands, what must that be like??? Nigerian born, what must that be like??? I did read your bio, but it brings it all home when you read how much it shapes them. Ok, anyway D I loved this part of your comment, “This helps us move forward to be able to give, not in the hunger to be filled.” Wow, “not the hunger to be filled.” That’s profound, I have to ruminate on that. AmEn!!!
I am so loving where you have taken these “conversations” on race and how people really see themselves. Loooving it! Simply Beautiful. When we pull back the layers of ourselves we can see more of our God that lives within each of us as well as in our brothers and sisters.
Lovely sentiment, L. I hope to work on seeing others – and myself – as God does. Thank you for the cheerleading.
Beautiful post, thanks D!!!
Thanks for walking alongside, S. You keep it more beautiful.
I don’t like to look in the mirror. Not because I hate the sight of myself. Not at all. I’m different and I like the way I am, I am accepting of the fact I am a Chinese person living in Australia. Don’t need to look at myself for reassurance I am me, for the confidence of being me – and the spirit of the powers above – will always be a feeling within me and my heart.
With that said, great post from all of you, great writing, strong emotions 🙂
Love the confidence, Mabel. It’s a testament in part to how your parents raised you. Am not surprised to hear it. =)
You said it perfectly. It always begins and ends at the heart.
No, Nida. YOU said it perfectly: “It always begins and ends at the heart.” Love this sentence. What goes around, comes around. Love always goes round 🙂
when i look at the mirror, i see a man of purpose, a debtor to my generation and an agent of impact. taking a path ordained by God but fulfilled by me.
I love every bit of this, Steve, the humility that your life could’ve been more difficult and the assurance rooted in God that your life has meaning. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.
Thanks Wayfarer, we all ve experience to bless others With, just be u and remain a blessing to others.
Thank yOu for the visit.
It’s inspiring to read that you have a strong sense of purpose, which shows up as your reflection in the mirror. At the risk of sounding cheeky, do you sometimes see that maybe you need a haircut? 😉
@livelytwist,I Always do when there is a sure need for a haircut lol. I live beyond me!!!
Okay, good to know 🙂
I have given up the “how do I look?” game. Now the only time I notice is when I think I look especially good. This comes from the eyes, though. When they are bright, shining and reflecting inner happiness. Everything else is superficial and I have given up on worrying about all of it. There are far more important things. Perhaps, however, if I was not just one more in a homogenized town…
=) Sweet and wise. And your last line brings a grin to this face. ” if I was not just one more in a homogenized town…” Well, we can’t quite fault you for that, now can we? Enough stuff to beat ourselves up about.
Reblogged this on on the road to inkrichment and commented:
When Holistic Wayfarer (blog – A Holistic Journey) asked me to write this testimony about race in the context of what I see in the mirror, I was overjoyed. And honestly a bit frazzled too because I had no idea what to write. Race is such a sensitive issue and we all have our stories. So what should I focus on? I decided to go beyond my physical traits and write about something that bothers me all the time. I wrote about being judgmental. And how true acceptance for me will come not just by celebrating everything that I am, but by accepting others too. That is how I will find true comfort in my own skin.
So what do you see in the mirror?
Nida, they say everytime you point a finger at someone else, at least three fingers are pointing back at you. I am encouraged when I read that you celebrate your many faces because I understand that you’ll also celebrate the many faces in the world.
I really like that proverb. It actually is a timely encouragement for me. Is it Nigerian? Of course it’s universal. =) But does it hail from N?
Well I heard it in Nigeria. Don’t know where it originated from 🙂
I have long eyelashes for a dude apparently. Never meant much to me, but growing up I got a lot of comments about it. From girls. They’d say, ‘you have such long eyelashes’ after a while I started to ask them if that’s a good thing. I never got much of an answer. I still don’t care, but I’m guessing they were jealous? Cause I had these lashes and wasn’t wearing mascara?
I’d also get comments from chicas whenever I’d cross dress in panty hose for halloween – you ‘have such great legs’. But I think it was less of a compliment and more of a wanting. Not cause they thought they were manly legs, but they wanted their legs to look like mine – somewhat muscular but thin. Haha. Luckily I’ve never felt uncomfortable with my feminine side.
As for what I see in the mirror. Sometimes nothing. Most days I don’t even look. Other days I see imperfections. You know that people who exercise as much as me all have some sort of body image issues, right? I’m pretty sure we do.
*Eh hem. Swallowing the last of the chuckles*
Well, long lashes mean big eyes. And yeah, they prolly half-envied the lashes and maaayyybe your legs. That was a bit of TMI, as the mirror question was one of the face. ^^ But I do believe the more confident you are as a man, the less you’ll be shaken about your more feminine side, if at all.
And yes, it’s refreshing to hear you lay out the body image issue that likely drives a lot of active people in their workouts.
I too don’t always reALLy look. That’s why this exercise was a challenge.
I read this over at LivelyTwist and couldn’t help myself from stopping by. Am loving the comments too. 🙂
I don’t spend so much time in the mirror anymore. I usually just take a look to see if everything is in order.
When I was still young, I always looked for perfection in what I saw and being human, I definitely did’t find it. In a way, this thinking stretched into the mirror of my life. The need to find perfection in my life, the expectation of perfection from others.
Today, I probably don’t do the mirror thing much because I have discovered that the image of my soul is much more important. When I look into the mirror of my soul, I see a beautiful woman, whose beauty comes from the understanding of her imperfections. I see a woman whose face, body, religion and race and everything in between sparkle because of the journey she has chosen for herself. Not the journey to perfection, but rather the journey of understanding and compassion.
Today I say I am beautiful and my heart knows it.
Thank you for getting us thinking. 🙂
Really love your input, Lyrical, esp:
“the expectation of perfection from others and your goal of understanding and compassion over perfection.” The compassion is other-centered, the quest for perfection me-centered. I appreciate your time. Keep shining.
“Today I say I am beautiful and my heart knows it.”
What a wonderful ending to the journey you shared!
When I look in the mirror I see my life written on my face in the little lines and creases. There used to be a young girl, not pretty, not ugly, just a young girl with a pale face and blue eyes. Then there was a woman, a mother, tired eyes from sleepless nights, blonde hair messy from lack of time. Now there is a grandmother, older, wiser, still not pretty or ugly but not all that concerned by beauty any more.
*Side grin* She sounds just lovely to me. Her words worked the portrait with simple, self-assured strokes.
Thank you 🙂
I looked in the mirror and what did I see…
A white haired, older guy was staring back at me.
LOL! Always matter-of-fact.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I also hear in your words that on your scale, looks don’t weigh the heaviest.
Right… as in “you are only as old as you think you are.” 🙂 Having said that, I recognize there are certain realities involved in aging, but I have every intention of ignoring/defying them as long as possible… from both a personal and a societal perspective.
Reblogged this on Musings&Rants and commented:
I had to highlight this blog post because, what else? It’s brilliant, Holistic Wayfarer, is amazing with her 3000 followers and her gifted writing style. Also her topics are PACKED. As in this post she talks about Race again and how it affects us with short little stories from some of her readers including her own. She loves to highlight others on her blog, which is such a nice thing to do, so please take a look at what she’s doing here. 🙂
I am not really sure what I see in the mirror. My face changes over the years, but I feel the same within. Or do I? Some changes are so small you do not notice them when they are happening. I found a picture of myself aged 18 today. Is this me? Am I her? I wish I knew. – But to be honest, I do not look into the mirror very long. Only in the mornings, to make sure I look not completely deranged 😉 And in the evening, getting ready to go to bed. For the rest of the day, I just hope my outside matches my inside a little bit. (Considering race, you could say I am a Middle-European mix. Nothing special… medium brown hair, brown eyes… nothing you would notice in a crowd at all.)
“My face changes over the years, but I feel the same within.” You go on to wonder how true this is but I think many of us can relate. We were 18 and the next thing we know 40 years have flown but we don’t feel old inside. Ha ha I also pretty much look just long enough to look passable in public. Which is why this exercise was helpful. I like that you hope your outside matches your inside. This touches on masks. We often go around managing a smile in company when we’re so tired or fearful or upset inside. I appreciate the portrait you painted so I can “see” you a bit more clearly. =) Thanks for your time.
Beautiful. Reverberates deeply in me!
So many lovely thoughts in the comments here, following on such lovely post meditations! We all have our own questions about and concepts of beauty, and find them inspiring us to look deeper for so many interesting and challenging corollary aspects of our worth. 🙂
Yes, K. Beauty, identity, heritage. Such fascinating questions we live. Thanks so much for being here. =)
Three stories, three perspectives, one theme. I am always endeared to this kind of writing.
*I commented earlier but it seems my comment vanished. Lol.*
It is incredible how much important self-image is. In one way or the other, we all are mirrors for someone out there. You could be the mirror that inspires confidence in a child; the mirror that sends a young man’s neck to the rope hanging from his ceiling … and on on on. Our spoken and written words are strong mirrors.
And these three are inspiring ones indeed.
Thanks for this. *and thanks Timi for bringing me back here.
Thanks for your persistence, Samuel. I dug your lovely feedback out of Spam, thanks to Timi. A provocative elaboration on what others see in and of us. A running consideration in my life since we posted this, but I will take your compelling reflections into my day. Thanks so much for your time, S.
Your comment reminds me of my responsibility to those looking at the mirror of my life. I hope that what they see inspires them to do life better. Thanks Samuel and thanks Diana for bringing Nida and I to write this piece with you.
“Your comment reminds me of my responsibility to those looking at the mirror of my life.” Yes, deeply humbling.
It is what it is. Looking in the mirror I see A human, sometimes pleasing other times not; but always recognition of the gift of life.
I really like that, S. Always, the gift of life. Thank you.
A beautiful collection of stories – inspiring, uplifting, and heartfelt.
Oops, I missed replying. Thanks, Ektrna (sorry, lazy lol). I appreciate the sweet word and the read.
My friend we all must look in the mirror ever day. We see what we are not what other people want to see.
Appreciate the truth. If only we all recognized it. Thanks for your time. =)