I am a beautiful, black woman.
My ancestry spans oceans, time and intertwines legacies.
It has taken so long to get to this point of radical self-love. I have decided to love myself to the point it did not matter the esthetic in the mirror. I decided in the face of all that wished to devour me, conquer me and rob me of my confidence. I decided to love myself–all of me, even if the world hated me for it.
This topic, this system of colorism, is designed and designated to strip people of color, especially women of color or any deep melanin, compare themselves amongst themselves with a standard which cannot be met—it cannot be met because the standard has not been established by us! It was, it is perpetuated by our foremothers.
“Ooh, you’re hair is so nappy! Come here so I can press it and make it pretty and straight.”
“Ooh, she pretty for a dark skinned girl.”
“Don’t stay in the sun too long, you’ll get dark!”
“She so light and pretty!”
These are a sample of the things told to little black girls. For the sake of Eurocentric beauty standards, for the sake of acceptance, appeasing the greater culture, we reprogram little black girls to believe their naturalness, their unaltered selves, is not good enough.
I don’t blame our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other older female eldership. They let use see, we are still pretty even with the In the tools of assimilation, showing us how we could change ourselves, gave us keys on how to maneuver in spaces where our natural state is unacceptable or not understandable. They showed us that we, too, can have pretty straight hair, and can do anything a white girl can do.
The rub still is, and becomes in some cases, this trifecta: self-hatred, not feeling good enough, and keeping up an esthetic which is not natural. Moreover, the first time you miss getting a relaxer, your silk press or your blow out? Your roots always tell who your grandparents are. Now, make no mistake, if you like your hair straight–fine. The thing is if when your hair is not straight, you feel less than or not pretty because of it.
Or because you were out in the sun, and your skin tone changed, you don’t feel or think you’re pretty (I suffered from this…). Being at the intersection of black and girl or black and woman, is indeed is a balancing act with the only reassurance is the knowledge of self:
- What do you say about yourself?
- What do you think of yourself?
- What do you see when you look in the mirror?
- Are you beautiful even if everything is taken from you?
As amazing as this life is as a black woman, I understand the weight of trying to be you and that not being enough because you don’t match what ‘people’ think. I know what it means to be told ‘you’re pretty for a black girl.’
I know–I know.
But I know the power of honest reflection. I know what it’s like to at last look at yourself in the mirror, and love everything you see–no make up, no perm, no nails. I fought to look at the reflection. I realized all the lies I believed about me were that: lies. I wasn’t pretty for a black girl. I was beautiful. I didn’t have to be made up to be beautiful, and it didn’t make me ugly because I had to change foundation because my skin darkened in the summer. I didn’t have to have my hair straight or dyed or bought down to my shoulders to be pretty.
I was enough.
When I admitted I was enough, colorism was countered in my psyche. It no longer could kill my spirit. I fell in love with me…and a black woman in love with herself can do anything.
[images from Google]