Self Portrait

“Alright, everyone, we are going to draw self-portraits today!”. My small, slippery hands drop below my chair into my gaping backpack. I feel the rough, bubbled top of my rectangular pencil box sitting at the bottom. My weak first-grader arms wrench the solid pencil box up into the air and thump it onto the grey spotted desk. I push my pencil box to the desk’s top corner, as do my classmates in my table group/pod. As I listen closely for Ms. I to say begin, my group and I pull out our Crayola pencils and markers onto the flat surface. We watch the colours roll around, and Ms. I shouts, “Begin!”. 

I start with my six-year-old little hands picking up the golden-yellow colour to outline my blonde hair. Next to me sat my friend, Annabelle, who picked up the dark black pencil to trace out her short curly hair. I sat still, running my marker down the page to mimic my pin-straight hair; I watched Annabelle colour her beautiful, black curly hair wildly all over the page, wishing I had curly hair like hers. We then start to exchange our colours because we both are wearing vibrant pink and purple tops, mine is a fluffy sweater, and hers is a flowy long sleeve. I grip the pencil crayon with all my mite and scribble down my soft sweater as we giggle about our matching colours. Next is our eyes, I grab the Sea Green crayon, and Annabelle picks up the Raw Umber Brown crayon. I think to myself for a slight moment and realize green and brown are not the same colour. As we continue making our self-portraits, I grasp the peach colour and shade in my face and neck. On the other hand, Annabelle takes hold of the rich brown colour and shades in her face and neck. 

This is when I first started to notice people looked different from each other; my tiny brain, at the age of six and younger, couldn’t really comprehend that not all people looked the same. She was my friend, and that is all I thought of her, not about what made her and me and the rest of my classmates look different. All I remember was talking about how similar our outfits were because our tops were the same colour. This was one of the first instances where I realized people have different skin colours. At that age, I did not fully grasp the concept of what race is, but as I got older, I became more aware. 

My experience of creating a self-portrait in grade one was such a pure and innocent activity. It was my very first introduction to the concept of different skin colours. Being six years old, I looked at everyone the same way. I never would have known a self-portrait would be my first experience learning about race and people having different skin colours.

One thought on “Self Portrait”

  1. Hi Torri! Reading your self-story, I immediately felt like I could relate as I know exactly what pencil box you were talking about! I had a pink one in grade two! I love how descriptive you were in naming the colours of crayons you used! This story was short and sweet and I can totally imagine this taking place. It really makes me think about how innocent and naive we all once were. I love how you pointed out, how at that age you thought of her as your friend and that was all. This so true for many people, it is so sad how our minds can be shaped as we get older to see people in a different way. I wonder how you felt after coming to this realization at such a young age? I think this story was really well done! Thank you for sharing!
    -Taylor 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *