Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood and often being one of the very few or only black kids in class, I did not consider myself to be anywhere near the standard of beauty. Oh, and if there were any other black kids, I was always the darkest.
It took me a really long time (well into adulthood) to really love and embrace who I was, and to define my own standard of beauty. Raising two girls, from the time they were babies (ages four and six now), I’ve always told them how beautiful they are. I talk about how beautiful their hair is because I always longed for long, straight, flowy hair.
Here are five empowering lessons on beauty I’m teaching my brown girls, as well as an open letter to let them know they are beautiful. Period.
1. Beauty looks different for everyone – there is no standard
2. You don’t have to have long, straight, flowy hair for it to be beautiful
3. Your beauty starts with your character
4. You don’t have to conform to what society says is the standard
5. Your beauty is in how you treat others
To my beautiful brown girls: you are more than the shade of your skin tone. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your skin color is not too dark or too light. You don’t have “good hair” or “bad hair”.
Your skin is perfect and your hair is exactly what God created for you. Know that you were created in His image. His image is always perfect. His image is never a mistake. Dear black girl, know that you are:
- Pretty. Period.
- Smart. Period.
- Intelligent. Period.
- Courageous. Period.
- Loved. Period.
- Precious. Period.
A Fighter. A conqueror. A Queen. They will try to destroy you with their words. But don’t give them that power. You have to be able to look in the mirror and tell yourself how much you love yourself.
I wish someone had told me about self-love. I wish someone had told me I didn’t have to go looking for someone else to love me, because it was already within. I wish someone had told me that I am imperfectly perfect just the way I am. I wish someone had told me I that I had a voice. So I am telling you these things now.
I am writing this because I am you, and you are me. It took me over thirty years to learn the true meaning of loving myself. I didn’t understand that my thoughts became my words, which became my actions.
I didn’t understand the importance of being a cheerleader for myself. Did you know that while I love you, while so many people love you…no human being can love you more than you love yourself? Be confident in your magnificence. Be confident in your brilliance.
How you ask? Hold your head up high. Surround yourself with more cheerleaders. Live in the moment, and celebrate even what you consider to be small successes.
Growing up, I didn’t understand that my skin tone wasn’t a factor in creating a life of happiness. I didn’t see many people who looked like me on TV, or even in my classes.
When I picked up books or magazines, I thought that a lack of images that looked like me, meant that I was not worthy; that I was not beautiful.
But I want you to know that you are all of these things. You are the creator of your own happiness. Growing up, I thought being pretty meant having long, straight hair down my back, and a skin tone ten shades lighter than I had.
Now, I’ve learned to embrace the beautiful, natural hair and rich melanin that God gave me, and I’m teaching my girls to do the same. Will you join me?
Don’t allow anyone to dim your light. The world needs you. Even when you’re feeling alone, you are not alone. Read these words until you believe them for yourself.
You matter. Your. Life. Matters.
Don’t ever forget that.
Your past mistakes do not define you, they only make you stronger. Beautiful brown girl, you are more than the shade of your skin. You are light to someone else’s darkness. You are happiness to someone else’s sadness. You are magnificent, just the way God created you to be.
BMWK: What empowering words of affirmation would you add to share with beautiful brown girls everywhere?