In the light of all the success of the talented and beautiful Lupita Nyongo. I was pondering all the applause she received for accepting herself and had some reflection of my journey. It took many years for me to accept the way that I look and felt about myself. There are still those times when I find it hard to accept compliments.
Yes I hated the color of my skin. It’s not just a dark skinned black girl problem. I was always called “white girl” and if someone was mad at me I was called a “white bitch.” While I’ve come a long way and have learned myself, it makes me cringe when I hear people say she’s so cool to be light- skinned or she is not one of those stuck up light- skinned girls.
I hated my smile. I was always teased about my smile. You have little teeth and always showing your gums. I use to practice my smile in the mirror so my gums didn’t show
I hated my body. I couldn’t help that I was thin and had long legs and arms. Whereas most people eat when they’re emotional, I loss my appetite. I didn’t intentionally starve myself or want to be skinny but eating wasn’t my priority. I remember a friend telling me she was concerned for me because although I was small and I didn’t look healthy. She said, “Have you seen the Purdue commercial where there’s a plump Purdue chicken and a sickly chicken. She said right now you are the sickly chicken and I want you to go back to being my plump chicken.” I was going through a break-up and struggling as a single mom. I had stressed myself down to 100 pounds. It’s not polite to call people fat but no one cares if you get called skinny or boney. It’s ok if people say “You need to eat a sandwich?” or “What are you exercising for? You’re already anorexic.” In high school most of my girlfriends had hips and butt, but I developed 32 C breast that eventually filled out to 32DD. I thought God played a cruel joke on me by putting my hips and butt in the wrong place.
During my teens, I stayed depressed. Never really knowing where I fit in. It was people like Mr Spencer who called me “Smiley” because he said my smile brighten up his day. Then there was some “boy” who said no one wants a skinny light-skinned girl. They want the those thick “Luke” girls. No one wants to put their zoom zoom in your boom boom. Funny now but not funny when your struggling with self love issues.
Hair, yes my hair was a whole issue in itself. Somebody made a comment to me that light-skinned girls were supposed to have “good hair.” You might be light skinned but your hair is from Africa. When my hair started to thin out a couple of years ago and my hair got tangled after I took my braids out, I cried for hours. It was my daughter Bobbi who said, “Mom don’t cry, it’s going to be ok!” She combed it until it was untangled. It still took another 2 years for me to go natural and accept my hair. I remember how excited I was when one of my daughters came to me because she wanted to loc her hair. Then one day my daughters’ father told her she needed to do something with her hair like get a perm or something. She didn’t need to be looking like her mother and Florida Evans. My heart sank. It’s even worse when the person who is supposed to have unconditional love is telling you that your not good enough.
In 2009, I gained 25 pounds. Everyone was so excited that I finally had some “meat on my bones.” I was weirded out because my thighs rubbed. I finally had that butt I always wanted. I was up to a size 6. Lol you couldn’t tell me nothing. I went to my eye doctor and he asked if I always had high cholesterol. With a puzzled look I asked him why he asked me that. He showed me the plaque build up in the veins of my eyes. I ran to my doctor who ran additional test. She said, “You have to lose weight and change your diet because your cholesterol and blood pressure is high. I told her I had noticed an irregular heart beat at times. I didn’t want my new booty to be the death of me.
I’ve worked hard to overcome my issues with self doubt. I’ve learned to love myself, my body and my hair but somewhere in this world some little girl is being torn apart by another person’s judgment or perception of what beauty is.
Written by: Nakea Hayes, Nakea is a blogger with a passion for empowering women. She loves all things sports. She also enjoys reading, dancing and traveling. Follow her on Twitter @nakeash