Some of you may have noticed that I am a little behind in the Blogging 101 process although it’s certainly no surprise to me. I told you guys I am a procrastinator…and a mommy, a student, and a ball of anxiety. Anyway, this post is in response to the Blogging 101 Dream Reader prompt. It took a while to figure out who my dream reader is. In reality, my dream reader is anyone interested in education, crafting and sewing. However, as much as I want my blogging to become a source of income and socializing for me, I want my blog and my works to affect those people who may be having a hard time in life. I want to talk to the young girl who is having trouble accepting herself and wishing she could end her existence. So here it is, my post to my dream reader…
Fat, black, and ugly. That is how I saw myself for the majority of my life. No matter how much my dad tried to convince me that I was a Nubian princess, the words of my peers pushed that concept out of my mind and left me feeling like trash on the side of the road. I think I became conscious of my self-hatred around the age of seven. Not only did I have kids at school teasing me for my skin color and my hair, but even my cousin would talk down to me for my proper way of speaking. It was hard enough being the only (or one of a few) black children in my Catholic school classes without having to deal with the pain when I left school. But that was how life was for me. According to my cousin, I was white-washed because I “talked like a white person”. It was very confusing for me because my dad had always taught us to speak proper English so that we would be respected by our non-black peers. And my classmates, most of whom were Caucasian and Asian, constantly reminded me of just how black I was and just how funny my hair looked. And so began my battle with self-esteem.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am extremely timid when it comes time to deal with tough stuff. I hate and am in fact afraid of confrontation. I’m sure it has everything to do with some things I dealt with at home as a child. But even now as an adult I avoid tension like the plague. In my childhood, I was in two fights and both times I did nothing but cry until they were done beating me up. So every time one of my peers teased me for my appearance, I did nothing. I did not try to come back with an equally poisonous insult, I did not strike them, I just took it and cried later when no one was around. But even more damaging was what I did to myself, I held it all in. I didn’t seek out adults to talk to or help me, I just sucked it up.
So what happens when a person holds in pain, anguish, and animosity? It usually ends up spewing back up either on another innocent bystander or onto the person in pain. For me, my victim was me. I hated me. I did not want to be me. Very often, I dreamed of another life where I actually was Caucasian, my hair was long and flowed in the wind, and I wasn’t the fattest kid in my class. I did physical harm to myself as a young child and often wished my life was just over. I believed that if this life were over for me, perhaps I would come back as the beautiful, skinny, white girl that I soooo wished to be. Honestly, two things kept me from taking my life. One I did not have access to a gun. I knew I could not take my life in any other way, I wanted it to happen quickly. Secondly, I have a BIG heart, and I always imagined how the lives of the people around me would be affected. I did not want to cause pain to my family just to escape my own. So I continued to live on, hating myself and hating my life.
Eventually, I figured it might just be easier to try to change some of the things that made me the monstrosity that I saw myself as. If the kids made fun of my short Jheri curl afro, maybe I should find another hairstyle. As if the Jheri curl was not damaging enough to my hair I finally got my hair permed in the sixth grade. It was an unhealthy mess of broken, dry hair and did absolutely nothing to boost the way I felt about myself. I would sneak my mom’s makeup and put some on at school in hopes that maybe it would make my classmates see me as pretty. However, I had no kind of training in makeup application so once again I was a mess. And once boys actually did take an interest in me and I got boyfriends ( I think it was my big butt) I allowed them to treat me like the trash I thought I was. I let my “friends” do the same to me. I let people take so much away from me physically, mentally, and emotionally and still found that I hated myself. I could go on and on and on, but you get the point.
When I became an adult I continued the same cycle in every relationship and friendship. I am afraid to think of how much money I have had in my hands over the years and how much of that was spent on people that I just wanted to like me. If I couldn’t wow them with beauty, I could buy them right? And when I’d get home and be alone, I’d still feel exactly the same. Fat, black, and ugly. I spent countless dollars on clothing, hair, makeup, and accessories just trying to keep up with the rest of the world. I thought that all of my nice possessions would take the attention away from my shortcomings. I thought the hair and makeup would hide the ugliness that I saw in the mirror. But none of it helped, I was still sad. That smile you see in my profile picture is the same smile I have had all of my life. I am quite good at fake smiling. Most people could not see what was going on with me because I knew how to turn on the jokes and the smile when people were around.
My life went on like this until very recently. Even after my first son was born, I still had issues. They were not as bad but I still pretended to love life while hating myself. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that I smartened up, but it was within the past four years. The biggest factor was probably deciding to return back to my natural state with my hair. Going almost bald and facing the world as myself changed my life. It made me realize that it was never the hair or makeup or clothes that made me. I saw how truly beautiful I was WITH my black skin and “funny-looking” hair. My husband definitely was a huge help because his love and affection never wavered. He loved me with my weaves and perm and actually seemed to love me more with my 1-inch short afro. Looking back, I think he loved the change in me on the inside that came with chopping off my hair.
Once I became a mommy of two, I started to really see how little all of that meant in the grand scheme of things. I have two sons that rely on me to feed, clothe, educate, and love them. They don’t care about a hairstyle, a skin color, or dress size, they just want my love. I realized how unhealthy my self-hatred is to my sons. Even if they don’t directly witness the way I feel about myself, they feel it when we interact. If I’m having a bad day, they feel it. So, just like that, I virtually stopped caring about my outside appearance. I don’t care if people see me as fat. I just want to be healthy so that I can live a long life for my sons. I never ever “diet” anymore, I just make a conscious effort to eat healthy every day. And I let my sons know how proud I am of my black skin and nappy hair so that they can be proud of theirs as well. My advice to them, and to you dream reader, is to never let others determine YOUR self-worth. Even if nobody else loves you, you better love yourself. And know that there are people who love you that you have never even met, including me.