I saw this picture of this little girl on Facebook and thought "what a pretty child." My immediate thought thereafter was "I hope her parents tell/teach her that she is beautiful before the media tells/teaches her otherwise". That same day, in fact, I posted that as my FB status, which brings me to this post.
This is not another "team lightskinned vs. team darkskinned" post that we've all seen on way too many a blog or Youtube video. I mean really folks, it's basically 2013 - can't we all just get along? This photo resonated with me because I grew up the same brownskinned little girl with the big, kinky hair. Only then it wasn't
As a young girl, flipping through the pages of "Seventeen" and other magazines where the faces smiling back at me didn't look like mine, the whole issue of beauty was very sensitive for me. I never publicly made it an issue, but when I looked in the mirror, I cursed that my skin was not 2 shades lighter, and the fact that I couldn't threaten my hair into submission. And then it happened....
One day I had a talk w/ my aunt who was visiting from New York. Complexion wise, she was light, bright, and.... you know the rest. Anyway, with sandy brown/blonde hair and green/blue-ish grey eyes in tow, she was often told she looked like
We ALL have issues as children. Black, White, Team Darkskinned, Team Lightskinned, Red-Haired ("It's a GINGER KID!!!" Thank you SOUTH PARK), Tall, Short, Fat, Skinny....that is what youth is all about. Being insecure and having issues and self-esteem problems. But eventually outgrowing and overcoming them. Turning what you perceive to be a weakness into a strength. My parents also helped me greatly in this regard so that by the time I got into 9th or 10th grade - girl, I was loving myself some me. I now described my skintone to people by referencing my favorite childhood crayon in the 64-crayon box: "You never heard of Burnt Sienna? It's the color of skin kissed by the Caribbean sun, yo!" That was an actual quote. From me. That was how I described my skin. And as for MY HAIR? Sure, I now wore it relaxed, like every other Black girl in that era, but I was so appreciating my hair. The thickness, the length,...and by then I had discovered Denise Huxtable (remember the "Gordon Gartrell" episode?), who I believed to be my long-lost fashion twin. And my inner fashionista came to the fore, meshing with my outer geek. So now I was the still-shy-weird-girl-with-the-even-weirder-but-cute-clothes in the corner, talking to my 5 friends and ignoring the male attention that I too was now getting. When classmates walked by and said "Hey Chicki!", I didn't shrink back and attempt to disappear in my locker. Shoulders straight and head held high, I responded, though admittedly in a much softer decibel than necessary, "Heeey! How are you?"
You see, I guess the point of this painfully long, hard to read, ramble is this: sometimes you have to be taught how to love yourself. And sometimes you have to teach others to do the same. For some, self-love isn't always innate. In today's world of airbrushing, plastic surgery, and all things Kardashian, we may have to help our young ones accept and own their beauty. And their talents. Even their weirdness. The media for sure will tell them that they do not measure up and are not good enough. They will learn that for whatever reason, they are inferior to the next guy. That is what they are being taught. We can teach them otherwise.
* What self-esteem issues did you have to overcome growing up?