You know those days when you’re on YouTube and you start out on one video and after about four or five videos you’re like: ”How did I get here?” Well, I had a situation like that last week. I started off watching a video of my sister Kayla singing and ended up at a makeup tutorial video entitled “From Fugly to Fabulous.” Two things occurred to me while watching this video: ”Man, maybe I should revamp my makeup routine from nothing to something, because this lady looks FIERCE!” and second: ”Why is she calling herself “fugly?” She’s beautiful!”
I would like to think that she was being humble and didn’t want to say something like: ”From Beautiful to Mega-ultra beautiful,” but seeing those words made me think of myself as a child.
When I was a little girl living in Alabama, I didn’t realize that I looked different from my siblings until we moved to East St. Louis and we started going to the same school. In this predominately black environment, whenever people saw me with my two older siblings we were always addressed with the same question: ”Why is she so dark? Is that y’all cousin?” ”No, she’s our sister.” ”What? Y’all got different daddies or something?” ”No, we all have the same parents, she’s just darker that’s all.” It continued to happen when we started going to our church as well. People would always recognize my sisters as siblings, but would always ask: ”Why is y’all cousin always with y’all?” Though I was lauded for having hair that draped to my butt, I still felt insignificant because I was too dark. It didn’t help once I got older and started getting crushes but I was denied because the boys that I liked fancied my sisters saying: ”It’s not that you’re ugly, it’s just that they’re so much prettier.” ”Umm… okay…”
I felt so bad about my dark complexion that with my first dollars of allowance that my father gave me, we went to Walmart and when he asked me what I wanted to buy with my money I told him, with my five year old voice, skin bleaching cream. My father who is also dark told me that I was beautiful, and from that day, even until now, his nickname for me is “Dark ‘N’ Lovely.”
My father’s encouragement definitely made me feel good about myself, but something that really touched me was an incident from when I was in high school. I babysat for a few families in my neighborhood, and one of the little girls who was my regular was this green eyed blonde two year old. She and I were coloring with markers and I noticed that she was observing me imitating me to the point that she would place her arms the way that I placed mine. I then saw her take a brown marker and began to color on her arm. ”Jessica*, why would you do that?” She smiled at me and said: ”Now I’m Kendra. I’m beautiful.” Thinking about it now still brings tears to my eyes, but it makes me realize that if a small two year old could see me as beautiful, why shouldn’t I?
It goes beyond a light skin – dark skin thing. It’s about getting to the point that whenever you look in the mirror that you like what you see, and you don’t attack yourself verbally about your perceived imperfections. I have had moments where I didn’t like myself, and even now after having my daughter and trying to lose this extra baby weight, it’s hard not to tear myself apart in the mirror. But I had to teach myself that no matter what, I am beautiful. I feel like I’m finally able to appreciate my looks for what they were. They might not be perfect, but I love me for me, and every woman that I come in contact with is beautiful. No longer feeling like I needed to compare myself to other women, I feel free and I love the freedom of not looking in the mirror and feeling like I’m ugly anymore. I’m me, and hey, I like me! Shoot, love me, actually.
I’m saying all of that to say this, no matter if you look the way that you would like to, and even if you don’t have the remembrance of an authority figure or a little girl’s voice to remind you that you are beautiful, know that you are.
Sometimes people can be so hard on themselves and feel like that because they don’t look a certain way, have a certain shape, or skin tone they don’t look as well. It goes for light skinned and dark skinned girls. (I recently found out that my two older light skinned sisters, who spent a week in Vegas a few years back, spent most of that time tanning, because they always felt that dark skin was beautiful, and they were too light.)
Instead of comparing yourself to someone that you’re not, love yourself for who you are. You are beautiful, and please remember that. So, please don’t be so hard on yourself, and get to loving you for you.
You’re beautiful. Why? Because Kendra Koger tweeted it @kkoger.
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