May 29th, 2013 is a date I’ll never forget. I received an email from a client I connected with on Instagram, who flew all the way from Chicago with her daughter for a quick portrait session. I’ve only been shooting for a 1 year or so by then, so my confidence wasn’t too high. However, the point of this moment was to meet 12 year old *Jessica* and to build her self-confidence through a photo shoot. It went well. She opened up to me about her classmates having weaves and perms, and she was the only one who had natural hair. They bullied her everyday because of it. They made fun of her kinky hair because they all had theirs slayed by the gods. Now, that broke my heart. We’re talking about pre-teen girls already brainwashed to believe everything else except their curly hair is the way to go and anyone who doesn’t follow suit is just wack. Where do they get this from? Their surroundings and the media are to blame for the disintegrating of our girls’ self-love.
Pre-teens have already developed a sense of self and self-love before reaching their teenage years through the relationships with their parents, siblings, their teachers, and even the shows they watch. Luckily enough, I had a father who didn’t fail to tell me he loved me every chance he got. He took me on daddy dates every month to remind me of my beauty and that I am worth the fight. But who are fighting for the girls in the corner that no one is paying attention to because their clothes and hair aren’t on fleek? We’re constantly being bombarded with European standards of what “real” beauty looks like in our magazines and on our televisions, all while calling our young ladies the ghetto, uneducated hoodrats that they aren’t. So when I came across Lovely Hoffman’s “My Black is Beautiful”, I almost shed a tear.
It reminded me of that young girl who walked around the park with me on that cold day while her mom trailed behind me, confessing to me how ugly she felt because she didn’t fit in. As black women, we are already carrying the burdens of taking care of our families, being breadwinners, fighting for the justice for all, all while looking for love without avail because we’re labeled “the angry black woman”. We’ve forgotten our young ladies. We’ve forgotten how to tell them that they are beautiful. They are amazing. They are strong, regardless of how kinky their hair is on a scale of 1 to 10. So thank you, Lovely Hoffman. I know we have the Beyonces and the Rihannas who are always telling us that we are exotic and alluring. But I’d like to thank you, Lovely, for reminding us that it starts with our girls.
We are royalty. We are descendants of the greatest Kings and Queens that ever graced this earth. If we don’t tell them about their history and their magnificence in all of their melanin-embodied glory, who will?
What song reminds you of your beauty on a day to day?
Drop a comment below. I'd love to add it to my playlist.