Tessa Bessa JuliessaBY Adriana Calandra
Although she is frequently confused as being older than me, Tessa is my baby sister. Considering that Tessa is almost six feet tall, “baby” is probably not the most appropriate word to describe her. She is sixteen years old but, judging by her looks and mature demeanor, she may as well be twenty-five. More sure of herself than any twenty-five year old I’ve ever known, Tessa does not need the approval of others to make her happy. In every way, my sister is refreshingly unique.
Tessa has a tall, skinny frame and mint green eyes that sparkle against her clear, bronzed skin. To label her as a brunette is extremely misleading; although Tessa was born with brown hair, she dyes it a different color ever few weeks. She must enjoy the horrified look on our mother’s face every time she comes home with different colored hair. At the moment, Tessa sports a jet-black, spikey pixie haircut.
Tessa’s looks, combined with her unusual sense of fashion, make her a bit peculiar and slightly misunderstood. My sister hates the type of girls who society labels as “beautiful;” rebellion through fashion comforts her. Tessa uses fashion as an outlet to showcase her extreme individuality and her desire to stand out. She rarely shops at malls or at any store with a nationally recognized name for fear that somebody else may have the identical outfit. Instead, my little sister prefers to pick up all of her clothes at varied small, usually dusty thrift shops in New York City. On a typical day, one can find Tessa dolled up in ripped jeans, a vintage band t-shirt, and thick, black combat boots. Additionally, Tessa is never found without her favorite accessory, an ancient Holga camera. Holgas take black and white single-shutter speed pictures and her Holga dangles around her neck like jewelry. Tessa has an uncanny gift for photography; she somehow captures glimpses of beauty in the most unlikely of places.
Tessa’s personality is quite similar to her photographic gift; she finds a beautiful quality in every person that she meets. Tessa bring out an unexpected and unexplainable energy in people. My sister is genuinely interested in what other people have to say, their interests, and their life stories. This stems from Tessa’s experience with how others tend to treat her. Because of her extremely unique look, people assume that she is distant and unapproachable. My sister has certainly faced adversity while growing up but even considering, she never went through a stage in which she resented every adult figure in her life. Tessa has never gotten in trouble in school and has certainly never gotten into arguments with my parents. She does not presume to know all of the answers to life but instead, she conducts herself with a willingness to continuously grow and change due to different experiences and life’s unexpected curveballs. She accepts advice as often as she gives it, and values but does not depend on the opinion of others.
A self-proclaimed girly-girl, I am constantly nose deep in current trends in fear of not fitting in with my peers. Tessa and I, while as close as sisters can be, could not be more different. I often think about the time when my sister started to transform into the person that she is today. The truth is, she has always been this way. Since we were little kids, my sister has always been quirky and one-of-a-kind; it all began with with her nickname.
I call my little sister the same nickname as I did when I was six years old and she was four. As children, Tessa and I were convinced that we were the “next big thing” in the music industry. We rocked out holding water bottles for microphones while banging on our mother’s pots and pans as instruments. One day I tried to rhyme words together to write a song about my sister; Tessa Bessa Juliessa was the result of my songwriting skills. Tessa hated the name from the moment it left my tongue and it has haunted her ever since. She has never been able to explain why she despises the name, but after dissecting the entirety of my sister’s existence for the purposes of this essay, her hatred suddenly made perfect sense. Because of the ingenious rhyme scheme, Tessa Bessa Juliessa flows together pristinely and poetically. The three words have a musical sound that naturally bounces off the tongue. Tessa, on the other hand, does not make sense in a way that most people understand and she certainly does not epitomize the qualities associated with the nickname. Tessa Bessa Juliessa sounds like a giggly daddy’s girl who still speaks in a baby voice to get her way. Tessa Bessa Juliessa sounds like a girl who drives a pink convertible and gets voted “most popular” in her high school yearbook. Tessa Bessa Juliessa should not be a shorthaired, tough-looking girl who wears way too much dark, black makeup, and trudges around in tough, biker boots.
Tessa disapproves of anything that adds up into a perfect equation; she is a natural rebel. My sister has absolutely no desire to be a figure of eloquence or to “blend in” with the crowd. This is obvious by the way that she dresses and conducts her life with an “I don’t care what people think about me” attitude. Tessa strives to push limits and set trends, and not piggyback off of others’ ideas. Tessa’s individualism especially shines through at school. Tessa attends a private prep high school with a very strict dress code policy. The boys must wear a suit and tie, and the girls must wear a button down oxford shirt tucked into a pleated skirt. Somehow, among the sea of identical Stepford schoolgirls, Tessa stands out. Tessa adorns her uniform and transforms it into something appropriate yet sufficiently creative. My sister’s originality is effortless yet it is luminous in every part of her life.
It makes sense that Tessa naturally repels the soft sounding rhyme scheme of Tessa Bessa Juliessa. The nickname does not describe my sister in an obvious way. The name only fits because it does not fit at all. Tessa is a walking contradiction; she appears one way on the outside but, in actuality, she embodies surprising characteristics. She is not hard and mean as she may appear on the surface. She is caring, thoughtful, and dangerously driven when pursuing her dreams. At one point it time, Tessa stood outside fashion designer Paula Varsalona’s work office everyday for three weeks until the designer agreed to view her portfolio and accept her as an intern. Tessa is a vibrant individual who few people give a chance or care to get to know. Today, Tessa Bessa Juliessa is a young girl who society would rather judge than see thrive but, mark my words, Tessa is a name that will be in lights one day.