When I pictured what our daughter would look like I hoped she would have my eye shape and my husband’s eye color. He has very wide, stunning blue eyes. They were the first thing I noticed when I saw him, and still one of my favorite physical qualities of his.
I like the almond shape of my eyes though, and thought they’d look striking in a lighter color on our little girl.
But what do you know, she got the exact opposite. And they couldn’t be cuter.
Last week I was in a hair shop buying some rollers when another black woman walked in and asked the man behind the counter if they sold color contacts. I stood by and watched as he pulled the case of display contacts out from their hiding space under the register, and watched as the woman looked them over.
She was beautiful. When she looked up I noticed she had lighter eyes than mine. Very light. And based on her purchase inquiry, they were most likely colored contacts. It reminded me of a phase I went through. Starting in high school, and through most of college I wore gray colored contacts. Grey sounds weird but they looked a pretty hazel when I wore them. I didn’t wear glasses, and I didn’t need contacts. My vision is perfect. They were strictly cosmetic.
I liked the way they made me look–Different. I stood out, and got compliments almost daily on my “beautiful” eyes.
I wore them when I met my husband, on television, even at our wedding. He preferred I didn’t wear them, but I liked them so I kept the habit. It wasn’t until I did an internship in Atlanta the summer before I graduated college that I decided to toss them.
There was a reporter I looked up to who took me under his wing. He was the youngest reporter at this powerhouse station, and he also happened to be black. He always told me what he thought straight up, and was never afraid to hold back with me.
I’ll never forget what he asked me:
“Why don’t you do you?”
“What?” The question caught me off guard. I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Why are you pretending to be someone you’re not? You don’t need to change the color of your eyes.”
I pointed out another reporter at the station who was doing the same thing but he didn’t take that as an excuse, and told me I should get rid of them.
So I did.
The next day I went in for the first time in a long time, with the eyes I was born with.
“See, you have beautiful brown eyes,” he told me. “Dark brown eyes, the ones you were given.”
Thankfully, we’ve remained friends over the years and he continues to be a mentor of mine and give me advice when I need it.
That conversation has stuck with me a long time and I often have to check myself and remember to just “do me.”
I’m glad I learned this lesson and came to love myself, and my eyes before my daughter was born. Her eyes were light gray for a day, but turned as black as mine by day two.
They’re big and wide like her daddy’s and dark like mine. They’re mine and his. They’re beautiful, and perfectly mixed