How To Be Beautiful: Show Others Their Beauty
by Cassendre Xavier
I try to do something frightening as often as I can. This grows my spirit and encourages me to overcome fear and generally comfortable or accustomed to being courageous. The latest thing, my latest challenge, is children! Or, more accurately, “youth”, as I believe most non-adult human types prefer to be called. As the Universe would have it, I was then invited to perform at a progressive private school, where I would sing and interact with an auditorium full of middle schoolers.
I chose to sing two of my original pop songs, accompanying myself on guitar, then I led the group in an affirmation sing-along.
One of the reasons I’m so scared of kids is that I was made fun of a lot growing up. A child of immigrant parents, and having spent part of my childhood in their country (Haiti) I dressed and talked "funny", and was teased relentlessly.
Even though I’m an adult now, there are still many aspects of my life that I thought would warrant being made fun of again. My braided extensions were severely in need of a touch up. One could say they looked downright “ratty” , or a “hot mess” as a young fashionista/o might say.
The whole time preparing and being in the school before my set, I worried someone would make fun of me and I’d hear the kids laughing, and my subsequent embarrassment. I wasn’t wearing the fancy clothes I thought would impress the kids – I wasn’t rich and I wasn’t famous.
Rather than continue to worry about these things, I decided to leave the fear behind and focus instead on my purpose for being there.
I wasn’t there to do a fashion show or teach them how they could go into the modeling profession. I was there to share my gift of music, and to teach them some tools I used to feel better, and empower myself to create the things I wanted in my life.
I spoke with my host, who invited me and introduced me, and found out from her what the students’ concerns were. They wanted confidence. That’s not what she said, but that was my interpretation. Confidence to do well on their tests, confidence to get along well with their peers, confidence to feel good about themselves, their looks, their abilities. They wanted confidence. She didn’t say, “They need to be around black women with very well groomed braids as often as possible.” Nothing she said remotely rhymed with, “They want to only be around cool people coming out of limos all the time.”
We all want the same thing: love. We want to be comfortable in life, and to feel good about ourselves. We want things to go well in our families, in our work, and to have fun friendships. We want to know our lives count, and that we are important.
I decided I would go to impart upon those kids as many feel-goods as I could. And as much as I focused on this, my ratty hair completely disappeared, both in my mind, and in their eyes.
I focused on my goal of being more comfortable talking with kids, and wanting to be a bold actress. So I did this event, and I focused on improvisation – something really scary to me.
I improvised and collectively wrote an affirmation song with the students, and invited two of them to play percussion drums on stage behind me while I sang.
It went really well, and I’d also written a special affirmation song just for them.
Afterwards, they asked me to sign autographs for them (me?!) and I signed their assignment books, “Love yourself and stay beautiful”.
In the picture of me with the kids as I’m signing my autographs for them, I don’t see my “ratty” hair in severe need of a touch up. I don’t focus on my overweight self in my inexpensive clothes. That’s not what I see. I just see a beautiful, bold woman in room full of beautiful young people, young people who taught me much, made my day, and helped me feel much better about myself. I realized then that it really doesn’t matter how much or how little you weigh, what clothes you wear, or what kind of hairstyle you have. Real beauty is inside and much more of it shows when you focus on the real beauty in others. If you tell people they’re beautiful, handsome, and lovely, they will feel it, and they will see the same in you.
Cassendre Xavier (aka Amethyste Rah, aka Amrita Waterfalls) is an award-winning multi-media artist and community/arts organizer. She is the founding director of Philadelphia’s annual Black Women’s Arts Festival (Est. 2003) and has a growing presence on YouTube where she features her music, writing, guided meditations, and raw/living foods lifestyle tips. Visit http://cassEndrExavier.com for more info.