“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” — Brene Brown
We don’t talk about the debilitating comments made to and about black women on a regular basis enough for me. From the color of their skin, to the style of their hair, to the shape of their bodies, women have been on the receiving end of microinsults (is it even micro at this point?) for quite some time now. From as early as the 15th century, the aspects of our culture, like our hair, beliefs, traditions were painfully ripped away from us, and the effects of that are still seen today.
I spoke to a few beautiful Black women who bravely chose to share their stories on how certain comments and behaviors have made them feel insecure to be in their own skin.
“When I had my hair relaxed and it was long to my butt, I was asked constantly if it was weave or if I’m mixed. Now that I have long natural hair, I’m still asked if it’s weave or immediately asked what I’m mixed with. It’s not flattering or complimentary in any way. It’s like a black girl cannot have beautiful hair without it being fake in some way. Like it’s impossible for me to just be black with long hair; there has to be some sort of universe stirring in my favor.” — Ty, 21.
“There was a guy I dated while in secondary school but I never met him in person, so it was basically like a blind date the first day I was supposed to see him. When we agreed to meet up, my best friend at the time (who’s a white female) came with me to meet him. The day I met him he thought my friend was the person he was supposed to meet and started subtly flirting with her, when she said it isn’t her he’s been talking to and it’s actually me, he said blatantly to my face that he doesn’t like black girls and asked my friend, in front my face if she wanted to date him. My heart was broken. Keep in mind this is a black male as well. I know everyone has their preference but I felt so ashamed of my skin color after that situation, and it really made me wary and scared of dating after that because I was of the opinion that most men thought like that. I’ll never forget that day, or the people that made me feel like that.” — Mel, 22.
“I’ve always had this impression; not sure if it’s because of my environment or the media most importantly, but Black women are always portrayed as having wide hips, a big ass and full breasts. And it has made me feel insecure in the past where I’d look at myself, because I’m petite, I’d look at myself and be like “I don’t look like that.” So I’d feel some type of way about myself because I don’t portray the image of what a Black woman is supposed to look like. So that was pretty messed up for me.” — Mia, 22.
Despite everything however, Ty now loves her hair and rocks it effortlessly regardless of the consistent questioning and criticizing. Mel is currently in a relationship with someone that loves her unconditionally and Mia is currently on a self-love journey and making tremendous strides.
The day a Black woman begins to love herself wholeheartedly, without a doubt she becomes the most powerful force to be reckoned with. I encourage you to ignore the noise. Your life truly begins when you do.
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.