Pretty Figure, By Olivia Broussard
By Olivia Broussard
“To sit, like a fool, and hear myself abused---A pretty figure I make”! - Samuel Richardson (Sir Charles Grandison; in a series of letters). For the fear of not being the pretty figure has become my mantra to my autophobia,fear of myself. I was diagnosed with scoliosis in the third grade; I needed more than a back brace, I needed a mental brace, a spiritual brace. But, my parents’ love, throughout the toughest years of my life, helped me become the confident person I am today.
How does a parent find the courage to finally confess an explanation they have withheld since birth to a third grade mind. My spine was in a critical stage at this point in my life because it was growing to unaligned which would have caused: struggles with physical activities and nervous system problems. So aware was this young, black girl that no longer choose friends based off compatibility, but their potential to keep a secret. I became tough, defensive because young and judgemental kids wanted to know why I disappeared into my Narnia,the teacher’s closet, but if they had only listened, they would have heard me trying to silence the ripping of the velcro strap of my prosthetic. My body type was slender, but the brace misconstrued people into perceiving myself as bulky looking. My insecurity progressed, and my coping mechanism was: buying bigger clothes because the tighter the shirt, the more it showed what I was hiding underneath. Within those two years, I graduated from the fifth grade, wearing a white dress which visually marked another chapter in my life, but more so a period of liberation because I no longer had to be braced. That summer my spine,once straight, now curved slowly, and the fear of becoming the hunchback of Notre Dame embedded itself in my cognizance. My autophobia returned, the mold changed it’s shape, and my chakra, my spiritual center, emitted willpower.
I learned how to refuse to let my emotions be introverted, my smile to be half its capacity, and my life to be driven by fear of the future. I realized that to conquer autophobia I must have full reign over my life, so I mastered the art of being a warrior in spirit,mind,and body. I allowed myself to find my God to ask questions that broke me, but mentally healed me as a i accepted their truth. I shattered the glass I walked on, finding that every step either cut a place that needed exposure or missed a place that had tough skin. I took baths to cleanse, and I was reborn into the author writing these words.
The more I grew, the more I realized that being a “pretty” figure goes beyond physical attributes. When I looked at the bigger picture, of myself as a young lady, I understood that my characteristics of: carrying myself with confidence, my social personality, my treatment of others, and educational determination is what allows me to be thought of as this “pretty figure” I wanted to be for majority of my life. I ended up in the same dilemma of prior years which led to another bracing. The difference was that I was no longer getting fitted for the brace, but the brace was getting fitted for me. I still brought bigger clothes, my slim figure was still gone, but pride filled my shoes and leisured my walk. A year later, I went for a follow up to see what the new brace had done for the progression of the curvature in my spine. My body decided it no longer needed a mold ,it did nothing. “You can stop wearing it. It’s not working.” a doctor’s advice trumps all others. Spinal fusion was my last option. I lashed out towards my father everytime he pushed me to wear it anyway, yelling “Something is better than nothing!” “Even if I put it on, it’s like a never had it on!” I would say in defeat and retaliation. At these times, I was scared by the thoughts of me hating myself for being born with scoliosis; along with the fact that there was nothing I could do about it. In that state of mind, that preaching hope was nothing and meant nothing.
A mother’s instinct,stubborn, and wanting a second opinion. She searched until she came across Dr. Andrew G. King, Louisiana’s top orthopedic surgeon at the New Orleans Children’s Hospital. My first visit not only did I meet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s son, but I was blessed with the clearance for surgery. I cried out of happiness, my one pointed fingered turned into praised hands.
Since, then my back has not aligned, but my journey has, into the seven chakras. Throughout our high school career, adolescents go through crucial personal development. I have lived within the last two chakras before the highest energy, truth and insight, as I’m a senior nearing graduation. I haved lived within my truth by not hiding who I am, expecting that this worst part of me brings out my best. Insight and contemplations has prepared me to deal with the world beyond school.
I have found my college major and career path with my National Charity League chapter. This past September through October, I was a buddy in Miracle league, a baseball association for kids with disabilities and prosthetic assistance. I witnessed the joy I brought them, how strong the kids were, how they navigated through life, and understood that although our stories were of different tales, they had the same morals. Our lives are both strenuous and unique, but create a thirst for the simple joys of life. I aspire to double major in physiology and computer science engineering. I want to mentally coach people through their tough states of mind, and to physically help people regain full range motion. Afterwards, i plan on going to medical school for clinical neurology, helping people internally conquer what holds the reins in their life. I share my journey with all who ask, and hope that it provides insight and enlightenment to others. I have accomplished becoming a pretty figure, but now a seek to find and become what’s more than that.