Self Love Is Where It All Starts

By: Inndiaa Anderson

I always had a vision for the man of my dreams. I imagined him being tall, muscular, “swagged out,” and most importantly BLACK. In middle, I thought I had found him. He had everything and he liked me; my style, my looks, and my swag. But the only thing that stopped him from FULLY accepting me was the fact that I was black.

When I would ask him to rate me on Instagram, he would always give me a 9.8. I learned that the remaining .2 of a point left was only because I was not his “preferred race,” since he only dated Latinas. I began to hate myself, fell into depression, tried to be like all the Latina girls in my school, and most of all lost hope of finding love.

We are known as the “angry black girls.” We are known as the “ghetto black girls.” We are known as “you are pretty for a black girl, what are you mixed with?” We are known as “you would be pretty, if you were not black.” Lastly, we are known as “light skin or dark skin.” All these phrases are what most use to define black women, as black women. We black girls are either neglected or preyed upon, we are shunned, roasted, hated, or exploited, raided, and victimized. They love us on social media but hate us in reality. They want girls who look like us but not us.

I use to be the “it girl” in elementary school, but in middle school everything was opposite. I was not popular, was not admired, was not loved in anyway, and that led me to think I was not worth it. I tried to like other guys but the same pattern was happening, in where I was black, and they didn’t like that.

I remember the process of trying to love myself. I surrounded myself with people who lifted me up, and I started to dress and look the way I wanted. I remember actually looking at myself one day and saying “wow look at you!” Everything was going well until I noticed girls other races at my school. They started to claim they were black. They started “talking black” and “acting black.” The minute I decided to love my blackness, they started to be black for fun. They got the hang of my culture and soon I was just like them…

This almost pulled me back into that dark pit I was once in, but I could not let it. That year I talked to God so much that I knew he would be my permanent best friend. He brought me out of my depression and it still feels like a dream. I used my REAL blackness as an advantage. They could not keep up with my glow, my style, the way I presented myself; it was as if they were in the presence of a true African Queen that set all the rules down.

I ended my 8th grade year with knowing I was beautiful, but still having insecurities. No matter how many compliments I got from girls, they would never fill the hole of ugliness I felt from boys. It led me to think about the love of my life. It got me scared. Would I ever find him because I was black? I remember this guy who told me, “no one wants to date you because you are black.” I cannot describe how I felt, because I believed it was true. This brought me down until random guys started to notice me. At first, I thought it was a because of the beauty I didn’t know I had, but what the guys wanted only made me feel disgusting rather than beautiful.

It was the summer going into 9th grade where I began to feel like myself again. I got a new hairstyle, crochet braids. Even though I always loved natural hair, I had wore hairstyles through middle school, that made me look closer to the preferred girls at my school. So I wore box braids, because my family would not let me get straight weave because it would make me “look too grown.” I decided on box braids because they were the closest thing to hair that was “good hair.” These “dreads” (they called them), still made me believe that one of the reasons no guy would love me, was because I wore weave.

I remember going to my 9th grade orientation and everyone was staring at me. A guy, who I’ll call Joe, came along with me and my family. I did not fully believe it was for me, but instead to hang out with my brother. When he first saw me, he looked stunned, amazed, as if he had seen the most beautiful thing that made you stop and stare. His first words were “You should become a model.” This brought a smile to my face and it still does… It was acceptance from a guy. A guy who I felt was way out of my league, a guy who every girl called cute, and a guy who could get any girl he wanted.

He thought I was beautiful. Although he complimented me, I began to question this, “What if he just said that because he was being nice?” “What if he was just treating me like his little sister.” My mind raced with these thoughts day after day. I doubted what he said because of my own insecurities. Not too long after his first remark, came his second. I was texting him and talking about how I did not have that much confidence, not for attention but in a joking matter, but inside it was not a joke.

He said to me “Lol you should have confidence Inndiaa. You have everything going for you.” I did not know how to respond. Just the thought of him and maybe everyone else thinking I had everything going for me put a smile on my face, which resorted to a cry. It was like wanting to be seen as a strong individual, but at the same time being sad and having no one there for you, because they think you are “too strong.”

The start and middle of 9th grade was a very different setting. Guys were starting to like me again. I guess “black was the new black.” I started to talk (what you do before you date in this generation) to different guys. Every single guy I talked to always ended up hurting me, and the only guy I ended coming back to was Joe.

The worst thing about this was no matter how worthy he made me feel, there were always the guys that brought me down. “You are the whitest black girl I have ever met.” “Latinos are winning.” “Why don’t you wear your real hair, are you bald?” Everything was a question about my BLACK life. The saddest part is they all came from guys of different races, even black guys. The only guy who completely understood me, loved, and appreciated me was Joe, and today he continues to brighten my day.

It’s hard, being viewed one way when you see yourself another. I will not choose to believe that the way society views me and my sisters is our fault. It is not and it will never be.

We are viewed as all these horrible stereotypes that make it seem impossible to find our soul mate. No matter how hard we try, there is always a bump in the road. Because of this I believe Black girls and women are driven to be “strong.” Because of this we begin to think “maybe I don’t need a man.” But in my opinion God laid someone on this Earth for each and every one of us. I learned a lot from my experiences and I am still learning. I learned that in order to find our true love, we must rise above societies’ expectations and learn to love our self, our blackness, our womanhood. Once we learn to do that, it will be easier for the man of our dreams to love us as the way we love ourselves.

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Bernasha Anderson
5 years 4 months ago

Inndiaa was incredibly open and vulnerable in this piece. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us. I think that many girls and women who read this will be able to connect and feel validated. This was incredibly empowering to Black girls and women.

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