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Pardon me as I get a little emotional with y’all.
As a military child, I was always thwarted into new situations, being the new kid on the block. Sometimes this meant being the dorky kid, the dark skinned black girl (living on the island of Okinawa and then in Hawaii, I was chocolate!), the thick girl, and quite a few varied descriptors, and these all affected how I saw myself, valued myself, and presented myself.
Add to the mix that I was a people pleaser, dealing with repressed emotions of abandonment from my father, then at 13 being sent away by my mother to live with my grandmother, which was both a blessing and a curse. From 13- 18 ish, I lived in fear of an aunt who called me every name under the sun when my nanna was not home. Add to the fact that my step-father was no longer allowed to see or speak to us (with my mother’s divorce), emotionally I was on edge.
A moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips.
No MAN will ever want you.
Daily, Monday through Friday, every day after school until my nanna came home from work. These words were drilled into me.
I was 13/14, in high school in a new city, having to learn how to perfect the blank, stoic face, how to mask my feelings and emotions in the face of fear. I learned how to minimize my feelings, emotions, thoughts, and myself for self-preservation. My uncle taught me to keep the blank face, because then I couldn’t get in trouble for anything I said or did. I gave her nothing, while I felt everything. I found extra things to do after school with Mrs. Mubashir or with my girls Jamila and Kenya, to prolong my going home.
I was terrified. I was sad. I felt small. I felt ugly. I felt worthless.
I had never been so verbally attacked, especially from someone who I just wanted to love me for me. At 14, I was trying to figure out what was wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Was I not smart enough? Why won’t she love me? Were my looks really that bad? (It is hard not to tear up as I write this)
So I worked harder.
Strived to be that perfect student, overachiever, trying my best not to get into trouble (it still happened, though). Trying to prove a point to whomever that I was good, that I was smart, that I was pretty, that I was something… Doing so, I sought attention with men who weren’t worthy, friends who weren’t loyal, and activities that mayyyy not have been the best for me. As I look back, I was calling out for something. Love.
But what I really needed was to learn self-love, self-esteem, a positive self-image of myself and how to best express my feelings, AND to KNOW, that they were, that I was, valid.
I am only NOW, unpacking these feelings. While I have forgiven and moved past, I never really realized how this had affected my view of myself, my relationships- in every aspect. This is what I learned as a child: Insecurity.
It is amazing that some of our first encounters with how we see ourselves come from someone so close, whom we hold in high regard, and look up to. As a child, we seek validation from these women and men in our life as we become to adopt their lens as ours. From there, our peers, and then the media. And if you are given a skewed sense of beauty as a child, you grow up looking at life, yourself, and others through these lens, if you aren’t careful.
For me, I minimized myself, thought little of my attractiveness, of my contributions, always feeling the need to do, give, and be more. Not realizing that I was ALREADY WORTHY. That my crooked smile, thick thighs, medium brown skin, weave or no weave having self, was already worthy. That my affinity for words, my goofy ways, my thoughts, my words, and my mind was worthy to be loved. That I was beautiful, no accident, and perfectly imperfect.
If I could change one thing about myself as a child, it would have been to KNOW that I am worthy. That my tallness made me regal, that my thoughts and words mattered, that my feelings and emotions were valid, that my skin color, hair, curves all made me who I am, ON purpose.
When Dove asked me to participate in sharing this message for their Dove Self-Esteem Project, it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. As I shared earlier, I am at a place in my life where I am unpacking emotional baggage that I had suppressed for years, not even knowing where this sense of smallness, inadequateness, fear of successes and the fear of emotional intimacy came from.
A new film from Dove encourages girls to realize they don’t need to change one thing about their appearance! Change One Thing, offers a glimpse into the pressure girls feel to alter their appearance which can negatively impact their self-esteem. Take a quick watch…
If I could change one thing about myself as a child?
I would say, nothing. Nothing, with the understanding and knowing that I am perfectly imperfect. That I was created on purpose, crooked smile, nerdy ways, goofy demeanor, all boobs, thighs, and legs.
Had I have known that, I think the words would have rolled right off my back. That I would have been able to advocate for myself a bit better. That I would have rejected words, spirits, and energies into my space. I suppose I would have been a bit more… stronger.
But then again, everything happens for a reason, right?
So here I am, sharing my story, hoping that my words reach, touch, and inspire others to share and be cautious of their own negative self-talk, how they speak life(words are so powerful) into their kids and extended family members, all with the help of the Dove Self-Esteem Project.
Why the Dove Self- Esteem Project?
Did you know that research shows that 9 out of 10 girls want to change at least one thing about their appearance; which can cause her to abandon activities that she once loved? Fortunately, Dove believes that everyone has the opportunity to make a difference in a girl’s self-esteem. Our goal, with this new campaign, is to encourage girls to find confidence in their beauty and inspire women to embrace the power and ease of mentorship to help the girls in their lives reach their full potential.
Will you join me in helping the young girls? You may even be moved and inspired yourself! I invite you to check out the free resources and conversation starters over on Pinterest! Pin and share these images, quotes, and statistics to show off and share! And while you are over on Pinterest, take a peek at my board and share a few things too!
Follow The Curvy Fashionista’s board Inspire me to be better on Pinterest.
Everyone can make a difference to a girl’s self-esteem.