Loving the Melanin We Are In
Some say that they are black and proud, but not many of us liked the thickness of our hair or those full lips initially, but we grew to love these things and are proudly black. This week, three women and I share our insecurities about our blackness that we have come to love.
Puberty hit me like a tonne of bricks. When girls were frustrated with cramps, I was just frustrated with the size of my hips. By the age of 14, it had already reached 40 inches and it was most uncomfortable. The added attention was very uncomfortable, I felt like a freak even though I would try to play it off and pretend like some of the jokes about it did not bother me. The older I became, the more I gained an appreciation for the size of my hips and the thickness of my thighs. My body is like an island with its hills and valleys and I am beautiful for it. Broad hips is a part of the black woman's body and I have always been proud of my thick hair and skin tone. I could not honestly say that I am proud to be black if I hate one thing that so profoundly identifies me with the race. Admittedly, it is also an ego boost to see that people pay for something that I was born with. I would trade my figure for nothing in the world.
One thing I used to hate about myself that I love now is my natural hair. I hated the look, thickness, and texture - a decision partially influenced by a family member of mine who told me that my hair was not good enough. Something that I now realised broke my heart and lowered my self-esteem. I found myself wearing a lot of false natural-looking hair, that people would think it was mine. I wore it constantly, never showing my natural hair, not even on holidays. In 2015, a man who seemed homeless randomly turned to me, looked at my hair and said these words "Girl, be yourself". I was shocked and embarrassed. I asked who he was talking to, but I knew it was me. I was convicted and convinced that I needed to do something about this misinformed view of my God-given hair, hair that was transplanted in my DNA from birth.
I went home, took off my falsely natural, washed my hair, Bantu knot (chiney bump) it and flaunted my hair. I fell in love with my hair and I am still in love with my hair even after getting bored with its shoulder length and cutting it in mid 2016. The thing that I hated the most has now become the foundation of my style. They say confidence has no competition, so today I look to self; today I no longer compare. I am unabashedly me.
Many people would be surprised to learn that the thing I did not like about myself while growing up was the how dark my skin tone was. But as I grew to understand the richness of my African heritage and the power and strength of black women, my appreciation for every ounce of melanin in my skin deepened. When I look in the mirror, I love the beauty looking back at me.
As a student attending high school, I was sometimes insecure and self conscious about my lips as I was always told it was the first thing one saw whenever they looked at my face. However, that is no longer an issue for me as I have come to love my very visible and beautiful lips that God has blessed me and the rest of my family with. It is our trait and it's the tell-tale sign of our relation. In this generation, where people are spending thousands of dollars on lip injections, lip balms with plumpers, and other gadgets, I can not help but love the skin I am in and I am glad to have it naturally.