Beauty & ME
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I always knew it was lurking but did not expect it so soon, but I felt that my children were always equipped to deal with it, the big B…Bullying. As a single mother of 4 girls, I expected the drama, I anticipated my daughter’s feeling of inadequacy in a society that tells her she is just not good enough. That she is too dark, too caramel, her lips are too big or even her hair did not meet the European definition of beautiful. I geared up for it, teaching my daughters that they were enough, that they were beautiful and how boring the world would be without the colors of the rainbow they added. Well it raised its ugly head, several times. I remember my 9-year-old seemed confident and loved her chocolate complexion and her tightly coiled hair. When she was 4 years old she insisted she wanted sisterlocks just like mommy. I was proud but suggested that she waited, but she was persistent; I took the time to install her sisterlocks. She loved them and receive many compliments. In first grade her classmate told her they were not pretty, and she should straighten her hair and wear it out. The classmate questioned if her hair was that long and made Tristan question her decision to have her hair locked. The classmate was loud and involved other students bringing more attention to Tristan’s hair. She came home upset about her classmate’s ridicule and wanted to change her hair.
I took my beautiful chocolate drop on my lap and I hugged her and rocked her as she cried; my heart was broken from the pain my baby was feeling. I then stood her in front of the mirror and told her to find something about herself she loved. She said her eyes, her smile and her hair. She said mom there is nothing wrong with my hair, it is beautiful like your hair; and although she hurt my feelings and embarrassed me I am glad you gave me my sisterlocks. She then asked could I take them down, so she would not have to be teased. I explained to her that she is enough, who she is, is enough, her beautiful hair was enough and if she likes her hair then it matters not what others think. I told her that she is not defined by her hair or what others think of her, what matters is her character, who God says she is. I explained to her how damaging the processing and heat would be to her hair and that it will grow strong as Sampson’s hair did. She lit up and smiled, she expressed how much she love me and my hair. A few weeks later the mother of the little girl who belittled Tristan; expressed to Tristan how much her daughter loves her hair and wants it to be like Tristan’s. Excitedly she turned to me and smiled, I winked but as we got into the van; Tristan said, “wow mom she really said that? Then why did she hurt me if all along she liked my hair. She said mommy you were right, she was not happy with her own self. Recently I offered to take her sisterlocks out and she outright refused, she says my hair is a part of who I am, and I love my hair just the way it is.
I in still in my children a sense of self-worth and to value their uniqueness. I tell my girls never allow someone else to dictate their truth. It is difficult especially as girls, they are told they are too fat (a new issue I am dealing with}, their hair is not “good” hair. As parents we must daily reaffirm our children, praise them when they do well, accentuate the positive and build their confidence. Even in their own homes they face ridicule from siblings. Never over look it, chop it off at the root. You only get one time to raise your children, you want to pour in as much character building, love and nurturing because the world is waiting to stifle their self-confidence and self-worth, however if you equip them they will be well built to handle it and not internalize the mess. By the way, the child was a little chocolate drop herself.
My 6 year old came to me one morning and said "Mommy, am I beautiful"? I immediately looked her in the eye and said yes you are beautiful, you are smart, you are strong, you're hair is beautiful, and you are loved. In her class she was one of two African Americans... Where she only saw girls with straight hair and fair skin, she didn't look like them, her hair was not like theirs. She didn't feel like she was pretty or beautiful. I had to encourage her to let her know that she is beautiful and loved. So I say to parents, teach your children that their skin does not define them, nor their hair but the content of their character and the love they have for themselves.
When I was, like, 5 years old, I used to pray to have light skin because I would always hear how pretty that little light skin girl was, or I would hear I was pretty to be dark skin. It wasn't until I was 13 that I really learned to appreciate my skin color and know that I was beautiful
Life occurs in stages, as a child each moment of growth swiftly passes from infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Parents help mark each life stage by allowing their child to obtain higher levels of autonomy every day. Venturing towards the phase of education is one of the biggest steps that parents and young children face; the big “First Day of Kindergarten!” Walking ones child to class can be a tremendous task as he or she is released from the care of their home to the care of a progressively expanding school environment. When my oldest son, Gregory, started kindergarten; he enjoyed the experience of playing, making new friends, and sharing memorable experiences in class. As the weeks drifted by during the first semester of school, Gregory was faced with his first encounter of bullying. Every morning he visited the cafeteria of the school, an older student would frequently bother him; creating an uncomfortable environment for a young mind immersed into a setting where mommy, daddy, or a loved one is not around.
One afternoon, Gregory said, “Mommy, may I eat at breakfast home?” my automatic response was to say yes to his request and also probe to see how he was doing? Upon the development of our conversation, Gregory disclosed that the older student made him feel very uncomfortable resulting in moments where he could not eat his breakfast. The next morning, I immediately informed school officials; advising them of the child’s name and how their actions reflected levels of bullying that I do not support in any way. The school administration responded in a very supportive manner by monitoring my kindergartener, speaking with the bully, and reassuring my confidence in their support for safety towards all students. This experience, sparked an opportunity for me to teach my family about instances of bullying through verbal, physical, and social disturbances and methods to utilize to combat the acts of one who resembles exclusion versus inclusion. Children embody a high level of expression, speaking with them will help maintain open lines of communication as they navigate the halls of school and the pathways to life; resulting in moments that ignite humble reflection used to apply towards different topics or experiences that flows throughout a lifetime.