I walked with my face looking at the floor so people would not see the ugly me. Sometimes people, even strangers, asked me embarrassing questions or made hurtful remarks. When the kids played games, I was always the "monster." I grew up imagining that everyone looked at me with disdain, as if my appearance were my fault. I always felt like I was a freak.
Yet Mama would say to me, at every turn, "Hold your head up high and face the world." It became a litany that I relied on. She had started when I was young. She would hold me in her arms and stroke my hair and say, "If you hold your head up high, it will be okay, and people will see your beautiful soul." She continued this message whenever I wanted to hide.
Those words have meant different things to me over the years. As a little child, I thought Mama meant, "Be careful or you will fall down or bump into something because you are not looking." As an adolescent, even though I tended to look down to hide my shame, I found that sometimes when I held my head up high and let people know me, they liked me. My mama`s words helped me begin to realize that by letting people look at my face, I let them recognize the intelligence and beaut