Be Fully You I Love My Hips & Curves Lingerie Diaries

When Your Face Has Curves

I have a fat face.

My cheeks are round, my chin isn’t very prominent, and when I bend said non-chin down toward my neck, a swell of skin erupts, a spare-tire, proto-double chin.

This face has been my reality since I was born—I inherited it and all its side effects: cheek pinching (which still persists, even now that I’m 26), being mistaken for one of my students (it’s all fun and games until people think there’s no chaperone), and the ever-present self-doubt and, yes, body image issues that come with my lack of visible cheekbones, my chubby chin.

Some days, I look at my face and see beauty—the way my eyes open and open, the delicious fullness of my lips, the warm glow of it all. Other days, I look and see nothing but flab, unwanted extra, ugly, too much, too much. It’s one thing to have a bad self-image day when you’re just walking around in your regular life, but to have it—as I recently did—the morning of a performance, of teaching a master class at my first real college visit as a published author–is another thing entirely. First, the frantic hotel room scramble—what can I do? How can I make this face look thinner? Then, going back through all I’ve eaten—did I have this double chin yesterday? Am I just gaining weight rapidly? Then, a consideration of makeup. But no—I remember how, after a few days of wearing the stuff, contouring my fat face away, I grew tired of it and wanted my skin to breathe.

I had, the night before, fallen quite in love with my bare face, and I was eager to wear it to match the pretty twists in my hair. But that morning, all I could see was my chin opening up to another chin. My intricate twist pattern mattered little—there was no saving my head from being a big wad of bad.

I recall an article published by a well-respected and widely read magazine about the most attractive faces. They were all angular, all chiseled and defined. Not a big cheek in the bunch. Not a brown cheek in the bunch. How can I compete with faces that are thin—skin stretched tightly across a cage of bones?

I went back to the mirror. I only had a few minutes to get it together before heading down to eat with faculty and students—I had to be on my game, I had to be able to present my face and all the rest to the world and be confident in it.

There is no formula, no magical potion to turn a fat face into a skinny one.

There is also no formula for self-acceptance.

I stared and stared at my face until I saw it: This face belongs to my mother, my sister, my aunts. My face is full, yes, but filled with good things: the instant recognition that I’m Jennifer’s baby at any family function, the ever-present joy that comes from my baby-cheeks. Full and not ugly, because beauty is bigger than cheekbones or Instagram eyebrows or how many chins you can count forming above your neck.

That morning, I think I had to remember that a face, a body, is not beautiful because it meets beauty standards proclaimed from on high, or even because someone else calls it beautiful—it is beautiful because it exists. It is beautiful because that is its natural state of being. Each face, each chubby cheek, each eye, big or little eye, is beautiful. And, staring at myself that morning, I saw it. There in the black of my pupils, in the curve of my face, in the way my cheeks are so full they seem to spill over—I saw gorgeous glitter and its unending shine.

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Bren
    June 15, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Beautifully spilled. ❤️ You are gorgeous, my dear! Thanks for helping me see my own beauty.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      June 19, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Thank you! Glad to inspire you to see your own beauty!

  • Reply
    Kwoya
    June 19, 2017 at 9:48 am

    I always see your beauty–seen and unseen, when I look at you.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      June 19, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Thank you, beautiful Kwoya! 💜💜💜

  • Reply
    ERF
    June 27, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Bah, you’re face is perfectly balanced, exactly the way God knows it needs to be to show your beauty, both outward and that beautiful prose contained inside. You can see it in your eyes, the words barely contained by your lips.

  • Reply
    clc
    July 16, 2017 at 9:07 am

    This is so what i needed today! I was having a less than perfect body image day and you made me see the beauty instead of focusing on the flaws. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Tina
    July 16, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Thank you for this writing. I, too, have a round face. I have never looked at it as a gift from my family and ancestors. I will now. Proudly.

    On a side note, I heard once that people with round, soft faces need to use right angles. To do so I always wear V neck blouses, shirts, or a pendant necklace that has a sharp right angle. On the flip side, people with angular faces or big noses should wear rounded necklines for a softer effect.

  • Reply
    April
    July 16, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Beautiful! I love my round face and mommy his article reminded me why.

    • Reply
      April
      July 16, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Typo* Beautiful I Love my round face and this article reminded me why. Thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    Marshall Thompson
    July 16, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Thank you for your encouragement and definition of beautiful! You are amazing beautiful inside and out! I pray you will continue bless and encourage someone on your journey! ❤️

  • Reply
    Dee C
    July 16, 2017 at 10:20 am

    You are absolutely gorgeous! Obvious to me both inside and outside! Rock you! You beautiful woman! Lift your head, lift your eyes, lift your heart and keep inspiring all who are fortunate to cross your path

  • Reply
    Sarah Roesner
    July 16, 2017 at 10:22 am

    You are so beautiful!!!! and the article made me really happy! I was having a not liking my face day but this makes me remember the reasons I love myself.

  • Reply
    Gillian
    July 16, 2017 at 11:44 am

    OMG…this actually pulled tears to my eyes. Though we know in a real sense that other women are looking at themselves and fighting the tapes and images that are seen that proclaim what is needed to be labeled “beautiful” and the articles that “prove” the “beautiful” people get the promotions at work it’s still awe inspiring to see you successfully walk thru to a place of acceptance and I looked in a mirror and repeated some of your written words to remind myself that my existence is indeed…..BEAUTIFUL. Thank you for being a catalyst to remind me , a women of color, that there is indeed beauty in my curves, etc…wherever they exist on my body. Be blessed.

  • Reply
    El McWhorter
    July 16, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Beauty truly comes in all shapes and colors. When we FEEL beautiful, that confident feeling radiates to others. Keep on shining! You are lovely.

  • Reply
    Lisa Wisong Miller
    July 16, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    I understand your up and down relationship with your face/body
    acceptance. Thank you for sharing
    your doubts and your ultimate
    insight into your glorious beauty.
    Thank you! I can really identify!

  • Reply
    Randa
    July 16, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    So well said <3 this whole piece just brings a smile to my face. Thank you for that, and for being so transparent. You are so beautiful.

  • Reply
    Erin
    July 16, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    I was blinking away tears by the final few lines. Thank you for your honesty, Ashley. I can relate.

  • Reply
    Liz
    July 16, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Thank you! We are hardest on ourselves.

  • Leave a Reply to Tina Cancel Reply