Living in Seoul has made me more conscious of my skin color and my size; but, that’s not all.
Beauty & Identity In Seoul, South Korea
I am surrounded by people with pale, white skin and black– sometimes brown or blonde, hair. Their eyes often make half moons in their faces, and when their eyes meet mine what do we really see as we stare at each other– so similar and yet so different?
Yes, living in Seoul, South Korea has made me more conscious of how dark my skin is and how tall and big I am– at least compared to the locals, some of who seem to be just as white as the clouds in the city sky and only as tall as my Nigerian American legs are long.
I’ve become more conscious of both my skin color and my size– and just how beautiful humanity truly is in all of its shades, shapes and sizes. I feel empowered by my differences and encouraged to be different by the different people around me.
Yes, there are times when I have faded into the background while standing next to my beautiful blonde friend from France, with stunning blue eyes, pale white skin and a slim frame even she doesn’t find slim enough in the presence of much slimmer girls and women.
Yes, there are times when I have felt less than beautiful in a sea of fish who look nothing like me– and don’t want to look anything like me as they swim towards their own standards of beauty, for better or for worse.
If you want to survive and thrive in Seoul, just keep swimming. Those times have forced me to explore myself– to swim deep in my own ocean and find myself. Oftentimes, I was there– lying on the bottom, forgotten. I’ve resurfaced time and time again with more and more pieces of me.
I never want to lose the pieces of me that empower me and encourage me– and not just when things are at their best but even when things are at their worst; because, somehow, I have lost those pieces of me– lost even my dreams.
With Hongdae’s colorful hip hop scene just a subway stop away from my quiet home in Sinchon, on the weekends I can take off my Tommy Hilfiger suits and trade them for name brand-less clothing that– like my favorite song by Vienna Teng, sings:
“All my maps will only show me how to lose my way.”
The funny thing about being lost, being less and being different is that they are the only way to become found, to become more and to become– and be, me.
That which defines you is not what is on the outside, but who is on the inside.
As my Dad recently told me, “Life is tough, but you are tough on the inside.”
We are all tough on the inside, but sometimes we don’t dig deep enough. Don’t be afraid to be tough or to dig deep and find– perhaps, your own missing pieces.