When I woke up this morning I had a text from my friend Stacey. She sent me a twitter photo with the caption Red thought this was you, I did too. It was a photo of a beautiful actress made famous by a well known Sci-Fi series. From only that specific angle, we could be twins. Up until one fateful night in October of 2019, I was mainstream pretty enough to have advantage. My life has been easier and sweeter for looking the way a woman should (read: thin, short, pretty, white). No need to argue over the word should; every women out there will agree that life is far less painful when you are thinner, shorter, whiter, and easier on the male gaze.

I was also anxious about my appearance and fairly shallow. I didn’t determine someone’s worth by how they looked, but I was obsessive about my own image, constantly comparing and inventorying my “endless” flaws. I bemoaned gravity and hated my thighs; that had the audacity to be slightly larger than they were at 17. I grew up knowing that my worth was intrinsically tied to the outside package I arrived in. School, friends, society, relationships and media reinforced this at every single turn.

Getting 2nd/3rd degree burns over 11% of your body will be devastating to someone who prioritizes beauty. It will also be illuminating. Was I simply given what I could handle though? Because even after everything, had the accident affected my face, my sight, my ability to walk, not just my arm; I don’t think I’d be the yoga pose, meditating, love yourself, voice I strive to be today. I’m not sure I’m that strong. As it is, I have still have scars. It took me longer than it should have to be grateful it hadn’t been worse.

That saying god only gives you what you can handle; it used to sound really fucking privileged to me. Looked at a different way: the people you see every day, the ones who are truly struggling? On the corner, at the bus stop, homeless. The ones who have mobility issues, obvious major health concerns; people who’s looks do not conform to societal standards? Those of us who can’t hide how different we are from the status quo? If “god” doles out pain only to those who can handle it, then those are the true warriors among us. Let’s all try to be kinder to one another coming up on the holidays in pandemic world; because you never know what the fuck someone is going through on any given day.

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