My Past Struggle With Beauty


Am I beautiful? I am beautiful?



          When I was younger, my mom and granny used to always say that “Beauty is

in the eyes of the beholder.” Cliche' I know, but it wasn’t until recently, at 22, that I

came to understand and appreciate what that really meant. I've learned that my

beauty belongs to me, it’s what I see. But journeying to find my own beauty has not

been easy. I’ve struggled just to be in love with myself and the skin that I’m in. For

years, I towered over EVERY boy and girl in my class. I wore glasses that were

"nerdy" and sometimes braided hairstyles that didn't fit my face. To top it off, I was a

dedicated teacher’s pet. As you can imagine, all of this together made me the pit of all jokes, causing insecurity to seep through every single pore I owned. 


My Deep Chocolate skin (which I love now) only increased my insecurity back then.It seemed to be the biggest cause of me feeling like I just wasn't good enough. I was aware, for a very long time, of the different treatment that people received based on whether they were white or black, and I ignorantly wished not to be the latter. I envied white girls because it seemed like they were the only ones on T.V. and they seemed to get everything so easily. The same went for black girls of lighter complexions. I felt like I had to at least have greenish brown eyes and long, thick, curly hair, the perfect combination of white and black features, in order to be considered pretty. Though I am not at all proud of the way I used to feel when I was younger, I've realized that my feelings and thoughts were not far-fetched for my age. Studies show that many young girls and boys are aware of the impact that skin color has on the way we view each other. Even for young kids, the color of another's skin subconsciously causes them to value or undervalue who they are.


Taking A Look Back


          Within the groundbreaking court case of Brown vs. Board of Education,Chief Justice Earl Warren stated:



                                  "To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their                                             race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may

                                          affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone."




Though these lines held so much power during the time that they were first spoken, they still ring true when reflecting on the ways in which Women of Color view their beauty.To be a Woman of Color in this country, means that you involuntarily shoulder the legacy of pain and struggle of a past that you may barely know, much of which deals with the color of your skin. Too many women fall victim to the negative ideologies of inferiority that our society has instilled within us. A major obstacle that we have to overcome within our lifetime, is the understanding of our own beauty. However, that inferiority many times takes the form of low self-esteem, lack of confidence and lack of self-appreciation for our inability to naturally fulfill the standards of European beauty that society upholds.


           In studying the work of Kenneth and Mamie Clark, child 

developmental psychologists known especially for their work concerning

children’s attitudes on race, it becomes clear that the color of one’s skin

has a huge impact on the way that people view themselves and others,

even at a very young age. Much of the results, especially when taken

from young brown skinned boys and girls, reiterated my previous views of

lighter and white skinned boys and girls being better than me simply

because of the color of their skin. Why is this so? Results like these are

atrocious but they only reflect the impact that society's ideologies have instilled

in our heads as people of color: Why am I so dark? Why don't I have long, straight hair and green or even blue eyes? Why? Why?? WHY? 


          When comparing these findings to the testimonies of young women within Kiri Davis’s documentary, "A Girl Like Me," an awareness becomes apparent. These young women are older than the young children used within the doll test and are able to point out exactly what impact societal standards of beauty have had and have on their lives. Whether these young people realize it or not, the media such as shows, movies, commercials, billboard advertisements, publications, etc., all have their part in pushing forth ideal images of what society feels a “beautiful” woman is to look like.












Throughout this video, these young women are completely raw about the pressures that society has placed on them to look a certain way. They understand that in the eyes of society their natural appearance keeps them from being defined as beautiful and they are aware of how these pressures places our people against each other depending on who fulfills the standards of beauty more. A major issue that was brought up by one of the young ladies towards the end of the video, is the fact that you cannot have an appreciation of who you are when you do not know where you have come from. I couldn't agree more!!!! I know that knowledge is power, but its also beauty! A major part of me learning about who I am developed through learning about who I was. I started to read more autobiographies and novels from prominent black authors. I took in more information about slavery and the struggles that our people went through, which allowed me to increase my appreciation of just how far we have come. I researched the phenomenal black men and women who are part of my history and share my present. Whether you are from America, the Caribbean, or straight from Africa, the greatest suggestion that I can offer you, would be to educate yourself on the beauty that our people have created. It’s made me increasingly proud of my brown color and my history. 


Supposedly Beauty Can Only Be.....



                          Blonde hair


                              Straight hair


                                        Long hair






Blue eyes                                                     Thin nose


        Green eyes

                                                            Light eyes               Light skin


                                          Small nose                                        Thin lips 


Though I’m nowhere near done, I look in the mirror now with different eyes and see a woman created specifically to be exactly the way she is. I see and appreciate every inch of my black beauty.I know that it is hard for a lot of us women, especially women of color, to know how to love ourselves and value our beauty. Instead of comprehending that each of us are one of a kind, we compare ourselves to the images of “ideal” women that the media calls beautiful and see ourselves lacking. So how did I break free? It’s been a learning process, one that I am still taking notes on, but in order to change my mental frame of mind, I had to be able to define beauty for myself.



       Caramel skin                                                               Wide hips    Big noses


Curves          Cocoa skin                                                             Dark eyes










Big eyes                              Kissable lips

                     Kinky hair                                        Afros

                                                         Short hair                   Long hair don't care

Light eyes                           No hair



So, YES!!!!! As Women of Color, we come in all different shades of Beautiful! Our eye colors are light, bright, medium, dark and everything in between. Our noses can be thin or thick, just as thick as our beautiful lips and hips. And of course, our hair is short, long, curly, kinky, brown, black and everything in between. As Women of Color, we are strong, amazing, beautiful and bold creations of GOD and we need to be the first to acknowledge and appreciate our own beauty before we expect anyone else to! As Women of Color, it is our turn to define what 

Beauty Is!



It's your turn!!! Share your art, your views, your  stories in order to help other women and girls find the beauty in their existence.

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