I was born in West Philly to two amazing parents. We are African American. My father and mother both drilled in me the idea of being proud of our culture and heritage. My mommy always taught me to love my chocolate skin and was always confident about hers. My father named me Kenya (my middle name) because of his love for the continent from where our ancestors hailed from. My parents filled our home with black history literature, music, conversations about black heroes and of course by watching any t.v. show that celebrated and highlighted people with our various hues. I lived in an all black neighborhood with fly black women who religiously went to the beauty salon and nail salon and slayed every time they stood on their front steps. Their unapologetic curves, loud laughs, stereo system with record players played the soundtrack to our lives in the hood that screamed, “I’m black and proud.”
Even with all of those reinforcements, I inwardly, I struggled as a pre-teen and teenager because I felt that I didn’t fit the mold of what society said was “beautiful”. After all, they couldn’t shield me from everything. On the opposite side of the spectrum of my interactions with black folks, at times I still felt out of place because I wasn’t a curvy black girl with budding boobs and a big butt and some didn’t believe I was “all” black. Often times, because of my hair texture and length, kids and even their parents would ask, “What are you? Do you have Indian in your family?” As a result of that at times I was ostracized because those same kids would say, “She thinks she’s better than everybody.” Unbeknownst to them my self-worth was at jeapordy each time I left home because of my own struggles with self acceptance. However, just when the awkwardness of my teenage body reached an unbearable phase, something happened. Here comes the modeling scout at the age of 13, “She’s so tall and beautiful with all of that pretty hair!” For once I felt like I fit the mold of something and I fit in. However, now looking back, I realize it was in that moment that I allowed someone else to begin to define whether or not I fit the standard. At first, it started off small. I was still listening to my parents and digested their words as the good fruit it was but here was this industry telling me my super skinny frame that people made fun of me for in school could make me thousands of dollars. My awkwardness could make me wealthy and silence the bullies. So I began each year to go after this dream of supermodel stardom. Audition after audition was filled with Caucasian girls who were showered with praise and contracts meanwhile I still struggled. As the years went on the disappointment mounted but because of Naomi and Tyra I still believed. The successful moments fed my ego while the moments of rejection gave birth to the need to seek out other means of acceptance some of which were unhealthy. I discovered Islam at the age of 19 and though it gave me peace and freed me from the prison of fitting into the societal ideas of beauty I even abandoned that for a time because I was still craving the worlds approval of me and my beauty. It happened so quickly and I when I looked up and realized what happened I was already married with children. When did I stop loving what God made me? Was it after the monthly subscription to Teen Magazine in the 1990’s poured Caucasian cover girls into my home each month? Was it the constant advertisements that boasted only fair skinned black or white women in their ads for everything from toothpaste to car, to cleaning products and even my favorite cereal? Was it the moments of walking away from auditions that seemingly only cast the fair-skinned or Caucasian girls? Was it the sexual assault when I was roughly 10 years old? Was it the toxic relationships I had that fed the same part of my ego that the beauty industry did while also feeding the “I’m never gonna be good enough” monster? The answer is I think there were quite a few moments that contributed to this demise of self-love but now I stand firm on the notion and fact that ALLAH MAKES EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL. I don’t need a magazine to tell me that. I don’t need social media to affirm that. I don’t need a man to tell me that. I am amazing and worthy of honor, respect, forgiveness and love because God made me. Allah made me an African American woman. I am not a mistake nor an intruder upon the soil of America. I am my ancestors dreams come true. I am made of melanin and might and strength in spite of hardships and hellish experiences that most of mankind cannot fathom. There are 40 years of wonder and warrior willpower flowing through my veins. So, knowing this, how dare I hate what God made me? The answer: I don’t anymore. My power lies in the truth, being unapologetic about my faith, self-awareness, self-love and self-forgiveness. The truth is God’s might and power made something majestic, flaws and all and that is…ME.
So, now I pose the question to you my love. What do you need to heal inside of you that you hate about you? Is it a past mistake? Is it something that you see in the mirror each day? Is it a wound that someone left behind after they left you or you escaped them? Do some digging today and be o.k. with what you find because that’s when the healing truly begins.
Remember, life is not perfect, it’s purposed for…….GREATNESS!
With Love From,