I can’t braid and still haven’t found the right shade of foundation to paint on my two toned face. And I like my hands dirty sometimes, motor oil and sweat mixed instead of a day spent behind the desk. I’m flat chested with just a suggestion of a curve at what should be my hips. With size 9 feet jotting out from my abnormally long legs. When I paint my toes there’s always some built up polish in the corners that dries. I don’t cry in front of people at the things that really hurt but the yearly Puff’s commercial leaves me running sensitively to the tissues. I have dark skin and darker big eyes. In the black community I’ve been told I’m not the right kind of woman all my life. Through suggestive comments and images of lighter skin and rounded asses. In society I am seen as much less a woman than an asset. I’ve had to learn how to love myself, for myself. Serena Williams recently said it best in her commercial proclaiming that “there’s no wrong way to be a woman.”
Let’s talk about building self-esteem by celebrating who we are, HOW we are. Here’s how…
Take it off baby, TAKE. IT. OFF.
Take off the layers of armor that you’ve allowed to protect you from the disappointment of not living up to the ideal female. Get naked with your emotions and for real. Sometimes I stare at myself in the mirror and admire the build of my body and the way my face lights up when I smile.
I could list all the things I wasn’t blessed with but I chose to only focus on finding the beauty of what’s in front of me. Lately I’ve also been realistic about exposing the seeping emotional wounds that I never nursed. The evidence of them leaking and poisoning my self esteem shows up when the inner voice whispers “you’re not enough” the root probably buried below a comment about my weight in ninth grade, or the cheating or the fact that one benefit from my friends with benefits wasn’t that he ended up choosing me. Uncovering all the little messages I’ve been sent and have been sending about what a woman should be is one way I reclaim my time, my life and my womanhood.
Validation versus Celebration
As a species we love validation in everything we do. We dress up knowing we look good but want someone to tell us how beautiful we are. We work hard and need others to praise how well put together and hardworking we are. Validation is necessary but the danger of it comes when hearing equals believing. Do you believe that you’re beautiful even if the one guy you dressed up for doesn’t even glance your way? How about after hearing “You’re cute for a dark skinned girl.” Do you believe that you’re enough of a woman even without all the things others project that a woman should be? Celebrate yourself by acknowledging and accepting your oddness in a world designed to encourage conformity. Celebrate yourself by interrupting the negative self view comments that broadcast in your head with positive messages about what you love about yourself and your life. Celebrate who you are, HOW you are. No apologies.
Expect the Unexpected
When you stop trying to live up to other people’s ideas of what you should be you may just find who you are and end up realizing how pretty fucking amazing your being is already. So you don’t live up to what your mom and older aunties think a woman should be because you’ve decided you don’t want kids right now. Or you happily flaunt your gorgeous voluptuous curves in a two piece against naysayers who whisper about your size. Or laugh when your athletic build makes men and women uncomfortable. Maybe you can’t do your own makeup but you’re a damn good cook; maybe you’re not domestic at all. You will always be the wrong kind of woman to someone but being the right kind of woman is only really important to one person in this world. YOU.