The melanin in my skin seems to be a problem. Though not to me, at least not anymore, the society that I live in sees it as the lower ranking color.
Black is not beautiful, it is not as beautiful as those with blond hair and blue eyes. Beauty should have no color, beauty should not be defined based on a particular hair texture. ‘Beauty should be beyond the naked eye’, but that is all a fairy tale, what I know is that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
But the eyes that society has sees no beauty in the color of my skin if it is not mixed. If my melanin is not mixed with money, weave, contact lenses, nudity, or pornography then it is somewhat irrelevant, undermined. What a shame, being black is so beautiful, but yet still it can cause so much pain. It can lead to low self-esteem and the lacking of self-love. I began to read about my black history and I noticed that I was not alone.
Maya Angelou in her book ‘I know why the caged birds sings’ wrote that she hoped that she was in a black ugly dream and she would wake up with blond hair. Black women like myself have had self-hatred for decades, which I consider far too long because we are looked down on by others even our very own.
I love my melanin, my nappy hair, and my broad/big nose. But I wasn’t always in love with all of that, not in love with me. I remember growing up, looking back I always admired a certain type of girls. They were the ones that got preferential treatment and were considered prettier. The lighter skin girls, longer hair and straighter nose, those were the girls I wanted to be like.
As I grew older, I felt more confident whenever I wore hair extensions, ‘Long hair don’t care, my weave best believe’, ‘I paid for it so its mine’, crazy right?. All that self-confidence did not even belong to me because the weave was not my real hair no matter how much I spent on it. But it made me feel so much prettier and honestly that would be the time I took more pictures. I wasn’t aware of my skin and its importance, the beauty in being black, the history, the strength and its power.
The older I got the more I realized that prejudice towards my race still exists. I went to a job interview in a city, a group interview consisting of over 30 people. At the end of the interview, the successful candidates were all asked to enter another room. But to my surprise none of those candidates was black and I was so shocked. I was not even upset because I was aware that I didn’t do so great in all the task given to us. But some of the black girls there did exceptionally well. That even for me was an eye opener for me.
I also remember being in a particular firm, but I had been wearing long braids. When I did take them out a young man asked me the question ‘Don’t you miss your long hair?’ meaning my braids. At that moment and the look that he gave to me straight away suggested that I should miss my braids because they better suit me from his perspective. Funny enough he’s not the only one that looks at me strange when I wear my nappy hair. Even people from my own race give me the look of non-acceptance of me wearing my natural hair.
A year ago I wore my short hair in a twist out for the first time at a birthday party and I must say that it was not very welcoming with regards to my hair. I got comments like ‘I didn’t know your hair was like that’, ‘What are you doing to your hair’, ‘What happened to your hair’. People still do say a lot of things like that but not as much as they use to, I do believe that is because my hair is now growing. I must say that so many times I felt like I should just perm my hair and just forget about being natural.But my six- year-old niece would not allow me to do such thing.
She is surrounded by people with long straight hair, straight nose and lighter skin at school. One day she came home and started putting her cardigan over her hair for a period of time. He explained that it was her having long hair. That really broke my heart because I know what it feels like hoping and wishing that I had long hair.
I know what it’s like to be called ‘big nose’ and ‘big forehead’ growing up. I wanted her to be able to look in the mirror from a young age and love herself. So I wore my nappy hair out more often and complimented both our hairs and say how lovely it is. I compliment her black skin and would tell her that she is the most beautiful princess in the world, and that everything about her was beautiful. If she saw me happy with my own hair and happy in my own skin then she too would never feel ashamed of her very own.
Honestly, social media has helped me so much to learn my black history and to accept it. It raises awareness on issues and brings clarity that I would not have known otherwise. Although things are not the same in the real world it still does boost self-confidence and inspire black women like me.
I can gladly say that my nappy hair has empowered me, encouraged me to learn my history and to understand my journey. I’ve learned to love my hair and its flexibility, to accept the fact that it will shrink in water and even when touched with gel. Yet still learn to love the fact that it can stretch with African threading and to embrace the fact that it is thick and coarse. I’ve learned how to accept the color of my skin and see it as a blessing. I don’t have to sit in the sun for a tan but when I do I connect with the sun, a radiance of beauty.
I am a goddess, a beautiful queen that can create nations and extend cultured. Willingly I accept to look younger than my actual age for the rest of my days. I am beautiful, I am strong, I am confident, I am a black woman.