Sunday, 4 May 2014

Ramblings| Tell them they are beautiful

I saw this tweet floating around twitterland last week and as dramatic as it sounds, it really touched something in my heart and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.

As a parent of two beautiful dark-skinned children, it is wholeheartedly and unashamedly my duty to ensure that I raise them to recognise and celebrate the beauty that they possess. 
Unfortunately, despite living in a multi-cultural society, the depths of our darkness, the kinks and coils of our hair, the curves and troughs of our bodies are yet to be recognised and promoted as being beautiful. 
I would hate for my children, particularly my daughter, to covet the beauty that is the polar opposite of her own or even worse, to not see the beauty in her own reflection.
Although I had and still have amazing parents, they were not the type to tell us that we were beautiful or compliment us on any aspect of our physicality. Their compliments and praise were deeply rooted in academic achievement and intellectual success which was not a bad thing. However, as a young child surrounded by the media, seeing only the one image out of the thousands around that slightly resembled a thinner, lighter me, led to feelings of insignificance and inadequacy. 
It didn't help either that even within my sub-culture where everything about me should have been celebrated, I was deemed as being too fat or too skinny, too dark, too tall, not voluptuous enough in certain places and so on. These insecurities were echoed by 'well-meaning' family members who would make 'compliments' such as "you are pretty despite being so dark". Unfortunately, these 'well-meaning' individuals didn't realise how detrimental these so-called compliments were. 
Despite my confident bravado, I was plagued with insecurities which was only fuelled by the media. The likes of Halle Berry, Tyra Banks, BeyoncĂ© and the late Aaliyah were the black ideals of beauty and these women, who were stunning in their own right, represented a black community I wasn't a part of. Although we had Naomi Campbell waving the flag for us darker skinned girls, her beauty seemed somewhat tarnished by her phone throwing and aggressive diva reputation. 
It wasn't until I reached my twenties that I began to see the beauty staring back at me in the mirror. I began to love my dark skin, my wide nose, my big forehead and other things that the younger me would have desperately traded away. Even till this day I'm still learning to love the me I see in the mirror. 
I wouldn't wish my old feelings of inadequacy or insignificance on anyone especially my children. Although they are too young to understand, I shower them both with compliments on a daily basis. I celebrate their beauty and rejoice in their imperfections. Already 'well-meaning' relatives have started to direct their vitriolic views towards Naila (who is only 4 months) with one saying the other day that "I hope you don't get any darker than this". It's comments like these that I will wash away with positive affirmations. And with the stunning Lupita Nyong'o hailed as the world's most beautiful woman, I'm praying that the media will begin to promote ALL ideals of beauty not just a token few. 
But as the tweet suggests; it's up to us as parents, siblings, aunties, teachers etc... to reinforce what is beautiful to our kids - inwardly and outwardly - which I will continue to do unapologetically. 


  1. yes good post, but its not even about colour - everyone should be told they are worthy, regardless of looks.. people are so cruel aren't they…

  2. I completely agree with you - it really shouldn't be about colour or anything for that matter. Beauty is more than the outward appearance which probably didn't come across in the post. Thank you for stopping by xx

  3. I remember I was in a lecture and we were watching a advert about real women and they were all naked in their bikini and mostly chubby old woman were representing real woman as much was happy about their proudness it didn't sit well because they didn't represent me or whenever I hear were real woman its like lol what am I. the point am making is that unfortunately the media never portrayed to me what I should look up to I looked up to myself and I believe you are the doing a great thing by showing your daughter that she can look up to you. I always say the TV/Media is a babysitter you pay for it never leaves it is vital to create a world for children that isn't portrayed on TV. I say less time on the internet or tv and more time to be active. Lovely & Inspiring post.