HEY BEAUTIFUL! BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE
“The reality is no matter how you decide to present yourself to the world, there will always be someone on the other end to criticize your choices.” YG
As a woman, ideas continuously swirl through my psyche about how I should be presenting myself to the world. As a black woman, these thoughts and ideas are even more complex and often leave me at a loss and eventually frozen in place. ,
The reality is no matter how you decide to present, there will always be someone on the other end to criticize your choices. You have makeup vs. no makeup, conservative clothing vs. revealing, plastic surgery vs. no surgery, hair extensions vs. no hair extensions, and particularly in the black community, natural vs. relaxed hair. If I’m honest, I’ve traveled through a phase either for or against each of the latter. I’ve come to the realization to just be who you want.
BE COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR CHOICES
“I Got Bored and Relaxed My Hair.”
Years ago, I found myself grossly consumed in YouTube videos of beautiful black women chopping off their relaxers and starting their natural hair journeys. I was inspired, so I grabbed my clippers and shaved my head. It was almost a euphoric feeling. I felt free and I quickly was consumed with all things natural hair. I called my mom and sisters and explained to them the importance of wearing your hair in its natural state. They were not interested. I didn’t let this stop me. For three years I would be natural and openly share my journey, but then I simply got bored and relaxed it. It wasn’t because I hated myself, it was simply a choice I made and I knew that I could transition back if I wanted.
Today, as I write this, my sisters and mom are now natural and I’m not. I still believe hair in its natural state is the healthiest and I’m currently considering transitioning back to natural hair, however, I no longer have an opinion about what other women decide to do with their hair. I understand the passion in the natural hair community, the discrimination against people with natural hair, and why natural hair should be celebrated. However, I also realized that no matter what choice I make, the key is to be comfortable with my choices no matter what people think.
BE AWARE OF YOUR CRUTCHES
No makeup, just me
“I Wasn’t Invisible Anymore.”
Alicia Keys took the media by storm when she announced that she would no longer be wearing makeup and launching a campaign to encourage other women to do the same. I thought to myself, this is awesome! However, I won’t be participating. Makeup is admittedly my crutch and obsession. Unlike my relaxed hair, I did rely on makeup. Despite this, her journey catapulted me into an inner monologue about my relationship with makeup and I realized it was unhealthy.
I have worn makeup since I was twelve years old. Everyday, I watched my mom always put her “best face forward” to present herself to the world. I vividly remember putting my sister’s powder on my face, taking her lipstick, and going to my first school dance. “Dang girl!” my crush said as he stood in the doorway of the school and for the first time, I wasn’t invisible anymore.
I realize now that without it, I felt invisible. It was time to learn to love myself without it. Taking baby steps, I went makeup-less a few times around close friends and braved my neighborhood walk with nothing, but filled in eyebrows. I took pictures without it like the one above. That may not sound like a lot, but for me, those were huge steps.
DO WHAT THE F YOU WANT; JUST DON’T HURT NOBODY 🙂
“I Do What the F-ck I Want.” – Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys taught me to release the chains that makeup had on me. Later she would also lead me to the realization that it’s not giving up the way you choose to express yourself, but it’s about having a healthy relationship with your adornments. Adam Levine told a story about stopping by Alicia Keys’ dressing room backstage on the set of The Voice. He said,
“She’s, by the way, so great. She was putting on a little bit of makeup…and I was like, ‘Oh, I thought Alicia doesn’t wear makeup’ and she’s like, ‘I do what the f-ck I want.’ I love you so much.”
I think as women and humanity as a whole, we have to stop tearing each other down. It’s okay to educate and give a different perspective. My sisters and mom didn’t want to go natural at first. I didn’t tear them down or berate them for chemically treating their hair because I understood the depth of their environment, social constructs, and humanity as a whole aversion to change. I simply told them why I chose natural hair while I honored their choice to express themselves how they wanted, but I didn’t judge them either way. Later, they went natural on their own.
Women play tug of war every day, afraid of being judged by either side while also judging themselves in the process. We have to work through insecurity by adding adornments that make us feel secure. Or we don’t adorn ourselves at all to make others feel secure.
DON’T DIM YOUR LIGHT
“I Realized I was Dimming My Light to Make Others Feel Secure.”
I remember going out with friends. After applying my favorite lipstick (Ruby Woo, at the time) for the night out one of the women stated, “You’re already married. Can you tone it down a bit? We’re the single ones.” Although it shouldn’t have, this statement discouraged me from wearing my favorite lipstick when around my other single friends. It also discouraged me from getting super dressed up on group outings in general and I realized I was dimming my light to make others feel secure. Not anymore.
I’ll always remember the words of India Arie,
“Sometimes I shave my legs and sometimes I don’t Sometimes I comb my hair and sometimes I won’t Depend on how the wind blows, I might even paint my toes It really just depends on whatever feels good in my soul”
Let me repeat so those in the back can hear, whatever feels good in MY soul. I have learned that we have to look inside of ourselves first, see the beauty and find security in who we are without anything extra. However, I also realize that we are blank canvases and we decide whether to paint, tattoo, or alter that canvass because, despite the choices we make, we are all walking works of art.
So, I can acknowledge the fact that I rely on some crutches to build my self-esteem, while also honoring the fact that some of my choices are just that – mine. And in the words of Alicia Keys, “I do what the f-ck I want”. I do love you all so much and thanks for reading.
P.S. I just ordered Alicia Keys’ book, More Myself: A Journey. Review to come soon. I cant wait to read it!