I walked into the airport lounge in overalls, pink-haired and tattooed. As early as I had been up without coffee, it didn’t take me long to realize no one else looked like me. Aside from my husband Austin, I sat amongst what looked to be the 1%. White men, well-tailored, business suits in tow.
I didn’t notice it last time, in Dubai. I was too enamored by the endless parade of food that was released from the kitchen doors. I remember looking at Austin and asking “who wouldn’t pay for this lounge?!” But this time was different. As I wandered through the lounge, between cups of coffee and my seriously luxurious shower, I felt eyes on me. And they really felt like those “what is she doing here” eyes. A little furrow in the brow that speaks volumes as I kick my feet up like the rest of them. I stood out like a sore thumb. “Soak it in,” I thought, “soak it in.”
Yes, I didn’t look like them and I thought of how important it was for me to be there, being myself, representing the 99%. Not only am I woman (shame on me) but I’m also Latinx, beyond that I’m tattooed and currently sporting a fresh hair color. I’ve been wanting to change my hair, something that suits me and I remember a friend saying “you’re already tattooed, you don’t want to look too edgy. Right now you look like a pretty girl.” This is my friend, imagine what these men were thinking.
I thought about how much we try to blend it to be a chameleon. Are we trying to make everyone else comfortable? Does that, in turn, make us comfortable, avoiding living in our own skin? I vow to myself to be unapologetically Amanda Lee, whatever that entails and I hope that you all can vow to be you, under all circumstances. Why, because the world needs to know you’re out there. You exist.
We need to be representing ourselves at every turn, that's the only way this world is going to change. Be a presence in a society that doesn’t expect you to be there, if you want to be there, of course. Show up, show people that you’re succeeding by being an individual and not a chameleon. Tell those people ‘I don’t have to look like you to be where you are, to drink the same champagne, to make the money you make.’
How are you going to show up today?
Side note, Austin began taking this photo of me with no one else in view. After a few shots, the man behind me walked into my frame and sat right where the camera could see him. I'm not surprised.