I went to an all girls’ boarding school prior to my big move to the United States. Growing my hair in this school was forbidden, so I had to cut off my hair. Yes, you guess right. I came to America with little hair.
When I started middle school in America, she was born. Who? The white girl in me. We will call her, Ashley.
My first day at middle school, I was called “weird” because I didn’t look anything like Ashley. Ashley is the standard of beauty. She has straight hair. She is skinny and so white.
I was nothing like Ashley. The black girls at my middle school looked at me funny and laughed when I walked by because I was not Ashley. They were not Ashley either, but they were closer to Ashley than me. They had their hair relaxed. They were Ashley on the inside but black girls on the outside.
I saw Ashley everywhere, she literally followed me everywhere. I saw her on billboards. I saw her in the clothing store where I buy clothes. She was everywhere. She looked nothing like me. Even the clothes I buy were sewn with Ashley in mind. Most of the stores sell clothes to fit Ashley. I had to go to several stores to find clothes to fit my body type.
Even when I am watching tv. Ashley is in all the commercials. Ashley is winning. The white boys want her. The black boys want her. Everybody wants Ashley.
In American society, beauty is a monolith. The closer you are to Ashley the prettier you are. The farther away you are from Ashley, then you are less attractive. To appease this naive society, I had to look like Ashley.
One day, I came back to school and everything changed.
My hair changed and I was at least 10% closer to Ashley and for the first time, the black girls at my school wanted to talk to me. They wanted to be my friend. Don’t get me wrong? It’s not Ashley’s fault, she is beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with Ashley’s beauty.
Before the natural hair movement, no one would look at me if I had kinky hair but as soon I relax my hair, heads turn. We are told the lighter shade of us looks better (closer to Ashley). A straighter hair looks better (closer to Ashley).
The truth is white America doesn’t want to recognize the diversity in beauty. It’s one thing for white America to tell us we are not beautiful, it is more self-debilitating for us to believe this lie. If white America doesn’t promote us, we must promote ourselves. We must learn to compliment each other. Tell a natural sister, she looks beautiful every day.
Some black women are walking around with white images of themselves. When some of them look in the mirror, they compare themselves to Ashley. White America wants us to walk in the shadow of Ashley.
Some black men have bought into the lie which states black women are not beautiful. They have drunk the “kool-aid” as one of my professors call it.
Our black is beautiful. You don’t have to be white to be beautiful. Stop bleaching. Stop searching for validation from people who have been conditioned by white America to only see white beauty.
“There’s no standard in beauty, there’s diversity in beauty”-Amber Starks
“Prettiness is not the rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female.” – Erin Mckean