….we have to find our beauty in a world that objectifies it when it’s used somewhere else. We have to embrace who we truly are, not for others, but for ourselves.
By: Undria Wilson
Growing up in a predominately white neighborhood, I rarely saw anyone who looked like me, dressed like me or had the same hair texture as me. I was just another black girl living in a world where I clearly didn’t belong but somehow I fit in.Most of my friends were white so as a result, I was intrigued by anything of European culture.
I read books by white authors, I listened to white music, I attended white schools and I followed what white people thought was cool. Deep down, I wanted to be white. I wanted the long, blond hair and blue eyes, I wanted the rich parents that owned their own company and I basically wanted to feel accepted by all of my peers.
Growing up in the early 2000’s, I didn’t realize the lack of love black women were shown in media and in society. It wasn’t until college that I started to see that women that looked like me, weren’t praised or idolized for their beauty.We weren’t considered beautiful unless we were mixed with something other than black.
If your name wasn’t Beyonce or Halle Berry, you practically weren’t anything to even get a second glance. I remember sitting outside of my high school steps waiting to be picked up when a Hispanic boy and a black guy that I knew came up and started talking to me. We were having a regular discussion when another black girl walked by and caught their attention.
While the black guy was talking about how attractive she was, the Hispanic guy said, “The darkest I would go to dating a black girl is the color of your jacket.” My jacket was bright yellow as it rested next to my medium-brown complexion. How could you not talk to a girl based solely on her skin tone? I was so upset that I just left and got into my car, but the thought never left my mind.
It wasn’t until I got to college that this sickened mindset started to take over the cognitive process of a lot of black men at my university. A black girl in their eyesight was ghetto, obnoxious, ugly, or just plain unattractive. She didn’t add much value although she was in college. A black man would only date a black girl if she had a lighter complexion or she had more “European-like” features. Women like Lisa Bonet, Aaliyah, Rozonda “Chili” Thomas from TLC and Stacey Dash would be the cream of the crop because they’re beauty aligned with the closest thing a black men could get to a “non-black” woman.
I took a deep look in the mirror and analyzed myself. Here I am: I’m smart, I’m beautiful, I’m talented, I’m ambitious, I’m independent and I’m sophisticated, but yet, one of my own men wouldn’t find me attractive unless I looked more “other” than I did black. It’s like my worth was based solely on whether I had slimmer features and a softer textured hair texture.
I didn’t have a pointed nose, but I had thin lips. My booty didn’t sit up or stand firm like a typical black girl. My body frame was more on the slim/petite side of the scale and my weave made up for the lack of soft, wavy hair I wished I had. The odd thing about the confusion I had that added on to my dilemma was that more white men found me more attractive than black men.
Was I even worthy of white men? Why did they see beauty in me that black men and society didn’t? For almost twenty-one years, I couldn’t fathom the idea that I would be considered beautiful to anyone. As a kid, I already had it internalized that being white was right. The lighter I was, the less coarse my hair was and the slimmer my frame, the more attractive I really was.
My worth was based on what people saw of me and not what I thought of myself. It hurt me to wake up every day and not feel like beautiful woman. It hurt that no one that looked like me, embraced their own beauty as well. It’s like we were trying to be anything but what we actually were and deep down, it became toxic to my well-being.
It’s now my senior year of college and I am just now accepting my natural beauty. I’m accepting that although my hair can be hard to manage, it’s mine and there’s nothing bad about it. I’m accepting that I am a lovely shade of brown. I’m accepting that people are going to think the worst of me because I’m a black female and that is okay. Regardless, I should give no one the benefit of making me feel as if I’m only special depending on how attractive they find me.
We as black women, have to find our beauty in a world that objectifies it when it’s used somewhere else. We have to embrace who we truly are, not for others, but for ourselves. We can’t live a happy life if we let others dictate who we are. We have to be happy in the skin we’re in.
I wish someone would have told me when I was younger that the only body part I should use is my brain. I wish someone would’ve told me that my black is beautiful. I wish someone would have told me to look in the mirror and admire my beauty with no weave and make up. I wish someone would have imprinted in my mind that I am strong, I am beautiful, I am courageous and I am a phenomenal woman.
To all women reading this, please know and understand that you are strong, you are beautiful, you are phenomenal and you are the cream of the crop. Keep your head up and your chest out and walk through the hate with a switch in your hips to beat of your own drum. You are a conqueror. You are a Queen. Being a black girl is a beautiful thing.