I laugh every time I see that meme about black girls doing the most whenever they see another black girl with natural hair, and how much it excites them. But, if I’m being honest, I do the same thing.
Let me see another black girl with a bomb t.w.a (or locs) and some poppin’ lipstick. My inner voice immediately screams yassssssss queen. And then I awkwardly smile, trying to muster up the courage to give her a compliment.
As someone who struggled to really accept herself growing up, this moment in #blackgirlmagic is really allowing my confidence to flourish!
Like, let me send out a couple of yasss queen’s for Issa, for Blavity, for Black Twitter, stories on For Harriet, and all the sistahs with #MelaninonFleek selfies on IG. I mean the list goes on.
And here’s why:
Growing up I was really, really, really insecure. Things I couldn’t change made me really harvest this self-hate that I had to fight in my early twenties.
I grew up in town with a small minority population.( Like, when I moved there just before first grade the black population was about 4%. Yeah.)
So when I moved to Liberty, MO I learned– very quickly–that I was unchangeably different, the outcast, from my peers.
I was chubby, black, and the daughter of a single mother. Whereas most of my friends were white and skinny, and came from two-parent households.
Everyday I looked at these people, my peers, and grew really uncomfortable with myself. It was through daily interactions with a group of culturally ignorant individuals that became so annoying and draining.
I remember one time a friend’s mom, my BFF at that, came to me and said:
Her: so, what’s with you not bathing?
Me: *blank stare* Ummmm…I’m sorry what?
Her: Well, *insert name* said you don’t wash (she actually put that weird “r” in there which sounds like warsh) your hair every day, so you must not be bathing.
Me: *blank stare again*
Because shower caps didn’t exist? Because its appropriate to say something like this to a child? Because ignorance is bliss, right? I really started to hate everything that made me, me. And looking back I did some really, admittedly stupid, but age appropriate (maybe?) things to fit in. I targeted the “it” girl and then aligned my interests with hers. To the point that I liked things I hated, and hated things I liked. #C’monson!
Now, all I can do is laugh at how unfortunate, sad, and mildly pathetic I was. As I got older I started to develop a better sense of self. I learned to love the traits that made me, me. Once I got over the being the “black girl surrounded by a bunch of whites” thing, I then struggled with body image. Yes, a “curvy” figure is more acceptable in the black community. But since literally everyone I was around had thighs that barely touched, the biggest obstacle was coming to a sense of body positivity.
Today, I am thankful for these new images that are trying to push a societal shift towards diverse figures. Especially as a woman.
I got the power to be a care-free black girl by simply not giving two flying farts (will do my best to keep it PG) of what others had to say. I spent so much time trying to please peers, wanting to look another way, even wished I was mixed at one point because I thought mixed girls were winning more than me. I had to do a ton of self-care, used daily affirmations, and surrounded myself with positive people. I didn’t grow to accept myself over night. Now that I have, I can say I seek comfort in knowing just exactly who I am and what I stand for.
Looking back, I can see that there are three things that can be attributed to me becoming a care free black girl. The first was getting my first black friend. In third grade, Brandy, came up to me at recess and invited me to play with her. In befriending her I then got other friends that looked like me. I started to be around people who shared the same cultural experiences, and when faced with adversities, had someone who could relate. The next two are kind of similar, but I feel played equal parts.
I went natural at 18, and by doing this I learned what my hair was like. I learned patience as well. Hair is often a sensitive topic with black girls, either its not long enough, its not thick enough, not straight enough, not curly enough, just not enough. Going natural I had to deal with what actually grew out of my scalp. Like, these coils are all mine. I can’t do anything to change the way it grows. Lastly, doing a big chop after 2 years into my natural hair journey. I was at a point in life where I was really stressed out. I hadn’t done anything really off the wall like cutting all my hair off. So one Friday night I did it. I went to the bathroom, grabbed a pair of hair shears, and went to work.
I felt like women hide behind their hair. I realized how much of an accessory I was making hair. Don’t get me wrong I love a great mane, but when you have the time to look at yourself in the mirror, just bare faced, you can see who you are. My big chop taught me I couldn’t continue to hide behind disparities and continue to complain about things I wanted to change. I actually felt so empowered in this. I also saw how judgemental others were of me for having short hair. At the end of the day, you have to be accountable for you. Just think, wouldn’t it be great to live a fulfilling life where you put your opinion at the top of your daily list of cares to give?
If I had to give a personal statement to a young black girl in the same situation it would be this:
I want you, as a young person of color, to feel safe in your skin. I don’t want you, or any other little girl to feel how I felt as a child. I want you to feel empowered, and realize that you have the strength and wits to be valued and encouraged.