Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What you tell a little girl about her looks

Picture gotten from
So, some of you might've read the story I started tweeting, but said I'll continue on here. I'm going to copy what I was tweeting below and continue from there:

We need to teach kids to accept who they are and not want to desperately be someone else.

As a kid, people would tell me, "you're mum is SO BEAUTIFUL AND FAIR! Why can't you be fair like your mum??" Wanna know how I took that?...
....So, I used to go to my mum, rub my arm up hers and say, "mum, am I any fairer?" How sad for my childhood self to be pushed to that extent. I liked my hair type (I was obsessed with checking out my long, curly hair in the mirror according to my parents), but I didn't like my skin colour because I wasn't....."white." I was made to think that beauty only came with being light skinned or looking European and that really boosted my self esteem (pure sarcasm there). I was bullied by my peers as a kid and the bullies told me that I was ugly many times. The adults who made those ignorant remarks about my looks compared to my mum's didn't realise that. However, that doesn't make them look less....(for the lack of a better word) bad. I mean, you don't say that to a kid. You don't say it to even a grown up! So, anyways, I was told I was ugly by my fellow kids while the adults told me the definition of beauty - fair skinned. Hmm....

I never told anyone, but I pretty much didn't like my skin colour as a kid and for my adolescent and most of my teen years too (I am currently in my late teens). I mean, I was and I still am the darkest kid in my nuclear (elementary) family, but I never wanted to accept that because I was the odd one out and I was made to think that I was the ugly duckling because people said my brother was, "handsome and fair." Heck! I didn't even realise my parents had very different skin colours till people started commenting about my mum's skin colour and how she's "beautiful because of it." Don't get me wrong, my mum is beautiful, but it is not because of her skin colour and people should never have associated her beauty with her skin colour. Anyways, so I used to use Nivea body lotions back then and whenever I saw the words, "lightening" or "whitening" on the bottles, I wanted the product SO BAD. I wanted to look beautiful and those words defined the phrase, "becoming beautiful."

Moving on, new story. So, I was bout 15 or 16 when this one happened. A landscape architect or whoever she was had the audacity to come into my parents' house and tell me about how I should change my natural, God-given looks to make myself look beautiful. She told me to get a relaxer because straight hair will make me look beautiful (this lady had thin-as-heck, relaxed hair and I had been like what, 1 or 2 years natural then?), she asked that question about why I wasn't fair like my mum (Madam! Am I God? I did not give myself my natural melanin level!), she dared to make a comment that could only be taken as, "if you were fairer, you would be more beautiful." I kept my cool, I kept my calm, but the words running through my head.......God had mercy on her that day because if I had said what I wanted to say......

I was a bridesmaid at a wedding about a year ago and the maid-of-honour dared to confront me about not wearing any makeup and having my hair in its natural state and not relaxed bone-straight like hers. She was so rude to me because I came to the wedding looking just like myself. The bride had never seen me with makeup on and she had always known me to have my hair in its natural state. She asked me to be her bridesmaid accepting who I was so why should her maid of honour have an issue with it and basically condemn my looks?

We all know that many teens have issues with their looks and during those teenage years, that's when girls want to change the most. We want to get loads of makeup on our faces to cover up our "flaws" and hope that the makeup doesn't get washed off during the day, we want to change our complexion a bit, change the way our eyes, nose and lips appear, permanently change the texture of our hair or just make it a total opposite daily. Okay! So, as a kid, I was basically told that I was ugly and in my mid-teens, I was basically told, "this is how you can get out of that ugly state."

It didn't help that I was on the big side either. Imagine being called, "OROBO!" at times instead of your actual name. 'Orobo' is a Nigerian word (usually used in a rude way) basically meaning, "fat person." People called me that, laughed while saying it and made innuendos about me eating way too much. My parents are a witness to this, I always ate in small portions, I hated so many things that other people liked to eat, I was even a vegetarian when I reached my largest point. Fortunately for me, I didn't start starving myself because of those remarks. However, I did feel bad and hurt a lot on the inside although I tried my best not to let it show. Imagine people making fun of your size, you go clothes shopping and from buying size 16 clothes (while you're between the ages of 12 and 13), you buy a size 22 dress because that's the only size in the store that fits you. You can guess how I felt. So, I got sick and dropped to a size 14. Yay! (sarcasm there) I started looking forward to the next time I'll be sick to lose even more weight and be slimmer. I wanted to be a size 0 or something near that.

Comments like the ones I heard really affected what I thought of myself. I didn't really accept my looks till sometime between the last half of 2013 and early half of this year when I would look in the mirror and be like, "God, you made me beautiful. Thank you." I love my skin tone and my hair type. I have not just learnt to accept them, but to see that there was nothing wrong with them in the first place. I had relaxed hair for most of my life and I can tell you this, I believe I look WAY MORE BEAUTIFUL with my natural hair than with that bone-straight hair that was on creamy crack.

So, you see how I took things when I was younger. Many little girls take it the same way I did or even worse. We need to stop making girls see themselves as hideous creatures because they're not. They are beautiful little people who only become what we call "monsters" or "brats" because of the things we've said or exposed them to. They grow up and become what we call "fake" because of what we've made them to believe. We need to change the way we speak to and around little girls and little boys too (they have feelings and emotions as well).


p.s I am still makeup-free, my hair is still in its naturally curly state and will forever revert to its natural texture when it gets wet, my smallest size since I lost weight has been a UK size 8, but I fluctuate between a size 8 and 10 (and 12, at times (depending on the store)) on top and a UK size 10 and 12 below (because of my hip to knee size and not my waist size, but mainly for jeans). Weight loss solely because I became more active. I love my body, I love my looks, I love my hair and I thank God that I didn't end up conforming to what I was made to believe is beautiful.

When we begin to feel beautiful, we become happier and the beauty radiates and people see it too and  tell you that you truly are beautiful.

I am not going to tell you to do a no-makeup challenge or whatever, but please know that under that makeup is not an ugly face, but a totally beautiful one. Don't let anyone ever make you think otherwise.

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