How “The Color Purple” Taught Me Self-Love
By Marsha Philitas
I’m addicted to The Big Bang Theory. I was a complete nerd growing up so the idea of a show focused on charmingly awkward people makes me giddy.
I was the kid who knew that bacterial cells could replicate every 20 minutes under the right conditions. The kid who made plans to go to Harvard in the 2nd grade. Who read books under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep. I was under those covers the first time I delved into Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.
Reading about Celie and Shug Avery was one of the moments that changed my life. The love between them was so tender, so real, that I could feel it deep down in my little 12-year-old heart. That’s the type of love that I wanted. One that was as simple as night and day. Where nothing had to be explained. The type of love that is there for you to lean into at the end of the day.
In my mind, I was Celie — the awkward, ugly, girl who felt unworthy and unlovable until sexy, silky, Shug came into her life.
That year, deep in my spirit, I had decided to wait for my own Shug. The woman who would make me beautiful by association.
I grew older, dated, fell in and out love and still I waited. Until I realized that no matter how sexy my partner was, no one could make me feel lovable.
My Shug didn’t exist outside of me; I needed to be my own Shug Avery. I needed to learn how to look at myself in the mirror and see physical and spiritual beauty. And I needed to learn to love the Celie within me.
The relationship between Celie and Shug mirrors the relationship that can exist between the least and most acceptable parts of ourselves. Can you love your inner Celie? The part of you that has been battered and called unlovable? Can you let her snuggle into you with the warm assurance that you will always love her?
These days, I’m still awkward, nerdy and love to get poetic about DNA. But late at night, when I’m supposed to be asleep, I caress the beautiful curves of my Shug Avery body, thank God for my Celie-like soul and pray for the grace to love them both.
Marsha Philitas is founder of The Trifecta Tribe, an organization based in New York City that offers sacred retreats and life coaching to queer women of color. This post originally appeared on The Trifecta Tribe. Cross-posted with permission.