How I Achieved Self-Acceptance.
I hated being black. I absolutely resented my skin color to the point I'd cry at night praying to God he'd make me lighter. To make me look prettier, to make my hair longer, to make my nose and lips smaller. I even bought skin bleaching soap hoping to get a brighter complexion when all it did was break me out. This was middle school. Where everyone teased me for not wearing my real hair, but when I did I'd get teased for it not being long enough. I thinned out my lips when I smiled so my lips didn't look so large in pictures. I never wore white because I was told it made me look darker than I was. I was tormented into a shell of who I was once was; outgoing..fearless..Happy. At one point I didn't think about my race, my height, my hair.
At one point nothing mattered except me doing what I wanted and having fun being who I was. But I was just a little kid. Exposed but not aware of the mind-altering realities of the world we live in today. The standard was white. The standard is still white. White spokesmen, white models, white actresses on Disney and Nickelodeon, white cartoon families on all greeting cards at target. But this is not a critique on representation(Or lack thereof). It gets difficult to love your differences when no one else seemed to have them. I was so rooted into my own insecurities I cheated myself out of so many opportunities I wish I could have taken. My mother, of course, tried her hardest to instill in me I was beautiful the way I was. She was heartbroken, knowing her little girl didn't truly love herself as she should, and consistently reminded me that being black did not and should not limit Me and who I wanted to be. But the outside world is very different than inside my home. It's not as loving as caring or nearly as considerate. I knew I was being ridiculous but at the same time, was I? Until came a point in time; where I saw myself, but in another girl. Another girl who looked just like me, who voiced her insecurities rather than locking them away.
"Our hair is just a mistake and everyone else's is the right way to do it" "my skin is so dark but I'm not even from Africa" she would say, all to get a laugh out of her white counterparts. Her insecurities were my own, and I found myself challenging her. Saying, "why are you dissing your own race? Putting down your own hair? To get laughs at the expense of deeming yourself lesser?" This was freshman year of high school. Finally hearing myself defend both us and our entire race out loud made me come to the life changing realization that: It is ok to be black. It is MORE than ok. Did I truly think that I was less of a human being because the complexion of my pigmentation was darker than someone else's? Did I truly lose myself that I let an irrelevant child tell ME what made me ugly or what made me pretty?It is a beautiful thing to be an African American woman and to change myself in any way would be doing a disservice to the world. It is ok to be Me.
It took coming face to face with my living insecurities to completely understand that I am amazing. We are amazing. Our hair is our hair because it's our hair. Being unapologetically black is the best thing that has ever happened to me. For I finally know who I am, and I will never again be ashamed for being "dark skinned", or for having "short and nappy hair". Who I am inside will shine over how others perceive my physical attributes. And they will hear me speak. I am happy with myself and I no longer worry about my color.
I have seen myself breaking out of my shell and molding into young me. The true me. My message to whomever it may concern Is that: race, religion, sexual orientations may be a roadblock, but it only really stops you if you allow it to. Rise above criticisms of the people who only spew hate because we're different than them. And what is being "different?" I am, we are, not "different", for being different implies there's a common merit of what we should be. Being black is apart of who I am, and always will be, and I absolutely love it. I love being black, and I love finally being Me.
Cover image from Google