Tall. Dark. Handsome?

by The Writer

“You Look Like”

“Has anyone ever told you, that you look exactly like LeBron James?”  This is the latest ‘you look like’ comment I received.  According to some, I look like; Shaquille O’Neal, Denzel Washington, Larry Holmes, Chris Tucker, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Chris Judge, Harry Belafonte (don’t ask me why), most NBA pro athletes, most NFL athletes…  Usually I play it up, but sometimes I laugh and throw in a ‘we all look alike’, response just to make it a little awkward.  But despite being black, most would agree that the men on the list would score relatively high on most women’s attractiveness scale.

With the exception of a few, I don’t think I resemble any of them.  But, in my opinion, the ones I may have a slight resemblance to, would score higher than myself on the scale. I’m not a gargoyle, I mean, I keep well-groomed and know I wouldn’t be ‘last pick’ at the party.  However, I’ve never really considered myself to be an attractive person.  I would find convenient ways to avoid taking pictures, or looking at photos I happened to be in, and I’d always untag those damn Facebook pics.  Even as an actor, I hated having to do the ‘headshots’, but it was the only way to get work, so begrudgingly, I did it. I even had to psyche myself into watching things I was in; I could never really enjoy the story watching myself in it.  Silly of me to be in a profession where getting work is based on looks first, and talent second.  I had no problem being someone else, but to be me didn’t seem like any fun;  perhaps that’s why I seem to learn best from role-modelling.

Last week I wrote a random story about ‘the greatest trick the devil ever pulled‘, and this, I suppose would be the follow up of sorts.  During my daily workout, I was over analyzing the post and connected to something I was obsessing considering; over the years, looking into the mirror, I didn’t like what was reflected back at me.   I could do very little with my exterior, so I took to changing my interior.  I liked what was inside, but that polished glass surface couldn’t reflect what was under my skin, the stuff I worked at to make attractive.  It seems my earlier excavation unearthed some other interesting revelations:  Growing up as a visible minority in the suburbs, I paid little attention to the inequitable distribution of power, privilege, and resources on and off the television screen. Albeit, conscious that there were differences among various ethnicities, I didn’t focus on the social and systemic, structures that caused and maintained the inequalities.  I was more concerned with my attempts to be ‘normal’ or to ‘fit in’, a journey fraught with disappointment.  However, overtime I discovered the expressive and nurturing craft of writing to find my identity.  But before that point, I had to deal with ‘what I looked like’.  How does one deal with something so important when you’re young and impressionable? Challenging to say the least, especially when you have no clue about ‘who you are’ or what you are becoming.  What should I look like? Who should I look like? Why should I care what I look like?

Those were the questions of an insecure kid looking to find his place in the world.  Now as an insecure adult, I know those questions don’t matter because often times my eyes deceive me.  Perhaps that is the reason our audible senses are developed long before sight, so we can train ourselves to listen to what’s inside of us instead of trusting what we see on the outside.

…I’m finally listening.