Before we start, this blog post is reflective of my own experiences, insight and opinion. It doesn’t judge anyone who does otherwise or set out to make others feel indifferent, it is just a look into my own understanding.
Now we have that cleared up, let me begin by pointing out that I know this will not resonate with every woman and I don’t expect it to, I just ask that you read open minded and willing to learn a little more about me.
For as long as I can remember, I had an issue with my identity. I didn’t like my appearance as a young teen; my hair, my features or my skin. At the age of 15, I went behind my mum’s back and had my hair relaxed chemically- HUGE MISTAKE. It burned my hair to shreds but I was so adamant I wanted to have straight hair just to fit in.
It didn’t matter how many positive affirmations my mum spoke into me, I just didn’t see it. Dare I say, all of my black female role models likely suffered the same because reflecting back, none of them embraced themselves for who they really are. We sat around discussing weaves, wigs, make-up, blonde hair extensions and so the list could commence. As cousins, we bullied one another when our weaves were out and sat for hours straightening each other’s hair, doing some horrific drew on eyebrows and calling each other ” Nappy Nora”. This was permitted behaviour from the women around us, nobody corrected us or told us it was wrong.
Growing into adulthood, I only ever felt beautiful with a wig and my ” face on “, to the point, I would wake up instantly to put my wig on so my partner didn’t have to see me without it.
This was a huge issue in my life.
Without these things I had no confidence, I saw this pass down on my nieces and younger cousins who’d make comments that they hated their curly hair at young ages and soon began not believing that they were beautiful.
Finding out I was having a daughter was basically a kick to all of this, I was slightly naive in the thought that my daughter would be fair skinned with soft, possibly even straight hair so for a while I wasn’t bothered about looking into my issues. I was very wrong.
My daughter has beautiful Afro hair, beautiful brown skin and the most gorgeous features I have seen.
How could I as a mother teach her to love herself, when she is my reflection and I don’t love myself?
Even before she was born, I had asked myself this. I didn’t want to raise a daughter who felt as insecure as I did because to me that’s a cycle I really want to end in our family. When she looks at herself as a child, a teenager and an adult, I just want her to know she is beautiful and need no reassurance from others to make her believe so.
What began as painful reflection has ended in absolute glory for me, I took it step by step. I have damaged my hair naturally over the years with heat and chemicals so I made it my mission to get loads of dead hair chopped off and just begin to take better care of it. I ditched my straighteners and instead go for a blow-dry if I fancy something different, but for the best part I am learning to take care and restore my natural hair.
The next was removing all the negatives I attached to my image as a black woman, I stopped looking at our beautiful features as issues and began realising that half the things we are taught to hate, other people pay for!
Over the year, I have worn make-up a handful of times and a wig maybe once or twice, it is a process overall. However, I have let go of everything and everyone that made me feel like I wasn’t born good or beautiful enough. I have learned that being a girl mum sometimes means you really have to look at your patterns in life and consider how they will affect the girl you’re raising into a woman; will you raise a good woman? will she love herself? accept who she is and set the bar high?
When we don’t know our own value, we end up settling for others who don’t see it either and this isn’t something I want my daughter to repeat from my life.
There are so many areas of self-improvement that begin when you realise you’re raising someones future mother and wife.
This has been less about hating the woman I used to be, I still think women who choose to be weave and wig glam are beautiful, I still think women who contour their face every day are beautiful, I just don’t feel it is my beautiful anymore. I hope that I raise a daughter who looks at me, swimming in my self-love and never feels she has to drown in negative opinions of others, I hope I am her arm-band when she dips in the pool of adulthood and needs a woman to help her learn how to fully love herself, I just want to be the reason she never has to start learning to love who she is again and again, because she never needed to stop in the first place.