DISCLAIMER THIS POST IS THE VIEWS OF MY OWN AND DOES NOT REFLECT ON ANYONE OR ANY OF MY AFFELATIONS
I am now proud to say that I am an African American. But it hasn’t always been that way, I never expressed it but it showed in my lack of confidence and my upbringing. As a child (3-6 years old) my grandmother bought me Black Barbie dolls and I refused to play with them because they were not as attractive as the white Barbie dolls. So my grandmother put them in the closet for me to later find and wonder what was going through my O so young mind. The black Barbie doll was so gorgeous by the way. My excuse as a young child was that I couldn’t do her hair like the white Barbie dolls because of course the black ones had afros.
So as a child my grandmother took me to several modeling auditions in my lifetime, and by several I mean A LOT. So in the process of going to all these auditions it really took a toll on my young mind. The casting directors and judges were so cruel! To even a child they had no filter. They were intimidating and made it very uncomfortable as a child auditioning. They would also call out the people names of who they wanted and the one who they didn’t want would of course stand there looking stupid. As a child I noticed they would always pick the white children or the older children there were never any blacks chosen. Now my young mind didn’t see color or race at the time, I just knew that I wanted to be like the ones who were getting selected by any means.
So when I was about 6 my grandmother took me to a salon to get a Perm/ Texturizer. Now for those who don’t know about hair, black women get relaxers to straighten their hair and a Perm/Texturizer is not common among Blacks but it is used to give your hair texture to make it curly or wavy. So here I am as a 6 year old in the salon agreeing to a texturizer because it would make me look like the other girls or made it look as if I was mixed so I too would get selected. Well it didn’t go as planned and now I have permeant damages to my hair from it. My hair fell out and now I will never have edges because it damaged my hair severely.
So fast forward I was over the entire modeling phase I just wasn’t getting selected like we had planned. By the way there is a video of me in a build-a-bear commercial when I was younger with a jean suit on. If you find it let me know lol. But as I got older I attended private school from kindergarten all the way through college. My middle school (k-8 grade) and high school was attend by black students and yes there was not 1 white student there although we did have the occasional mixed students. So in grade school I was teased about not having edges, having a gapped teeth, having a big butt, having big lips, being light skinned, I mean the list goes on. So with that I lost self-confidence and I hated everything about being black because in my little child/teen life everything I was, was hated among my peers and society. I will also never forget the time I got ketchup squirted on me, all I remember is me holding back the tears and just wiping the ketchup off me.
So going into high school I kind of grasp the concept of who I was becoming. I went natural in 2009 and I began to appreciate my blackness. Of course the teasing went away but I still lacked confidence. I didn’t have anyone in my corner saying appreciate your heritage and culture. I guess it should go without saying since I attended African American schools but I need more, it wasn’t enough. I was just always told to win and when I looked to see who was winning it wasn’t blacks that was pictured in magazines or on TV it was whites so I had to mimic them.
I made the conscience decision on my own to attend a college where their African American population was on average 20 Students and under and it was an all-girls college. Of course I was really ridiculed by other blacks about it and was told I need to go where I would be accepted. BUT, I wasn’t accepted anywhere not even among my own culture. Either I was too light skinned and was not as beautiful as a darker woman or I was to light skinned and I was too close to white woman. I just could not win!
Now back to college! I absolutely loved that I made the decision to attend the college it was the best thing for me. I didn’t know then what I was getting myself into but now I understand exactly what was happening. I finally became the Shamel I needed to be! My first semester I had a class called “Women and Media Studies” the first week the teacher showed us a documentary about Misogyny, and in the documentary it talked about how Barbie was portrayed back in the day and how women are taught by the media and men not to love themselves. THIS DOCUMENTRAY CHANGED MY LIFE! I also started to embrace who I was as an African American woman because we were so few in numbers and having to interact with blacks were a shock to some of the students there. I participated in all the cultural events in college as well as made sure I had a bond with the other black students. Now to say that I didn’t experience racism in college would be lie, hell for me to say I don’t experience racism today would be a lie. I just experienced racism last weekend when a white man closed a door in my face. But college really taught me to embrace who I was a woman and African American and never ever be sorry for who you are.
In present day I still struggle to find confidence in myself (I mean come on after 19 years of hating who I was it going to take some time geesh). Those life events really took a toll on my confidence just imagine having a black girl competing in a beauty contest and the black girl always loses by default, I didn’t know as a child it was because I was black I just thought I wasn’t pretty enough. It was hard! It’s not in my talents that I struggle to find confidence because I was always taught to win. But to find beauty in myself. To love my lips, to love my natural hair, to love my figure, to love my soon to be straight teeth. Having the features I have are not as bad I think and I need to embrace them.
Today I absolutely love everything about African American cultural from the hair, to the slang, to the head wraps, to the dashiki’s, and to anything that you shouldn’t have to apologize for. I love to take a stand for racial injustice issues as well as learn about African history that I might not have known. I love the fact that I can change my hair styles every week from short hair to long hair then to a natural afro or to braids. I think all African American women are beautiful and I think they are even more attractive when they are comfortable in their own skin. I support ALL women! No matter the skin tones or race. BUT most importantly I have now become unapologetically me! An African American woman who loves being African American!
PS share your thoughts and feeling I love feedback!