OWN Your Beauty
by April Clark, MSW of LC Counseling

Many times in life, individuals will let others define what their beauty is. I say how beautiful you are, depends on how beautiful you feel. So why do we allow others to define us? As smart and beautiful as I know I am, there are a few rare moments when I feel uneasy about my appearance.
Just recently, I was surrounded by beautiful Black women and became insecure. I immediately started with some self-talk (coping skills I teach many of my clients to deal with stressful moments). I was saying things to myself like, ‘April you are so beautiful, educated, and loved’. Then I started sizing myself up, comparing myself to them. I was comparing my wealth with their wealth, checking out their clothes, shoes, hair, etc. When I speak of wealth, I am speaking of comparison about all things, not just monetary.

Now, mind you, no one said anything unfavorable to me, but my insecurity made me defensive. Why? Because in that rare moment in my life, I allowed society to determine my beauty. Nothing had changed about my ideology (about myself) from the time I left home and entered that social setting. I will tell you that I am usually a very confident, secure, and assertive person. I am also compassionate, caring, and giving. I am well educated and financially comfortable. I have a healthy marriage and healthy children that are fairly well behaved. On most days, I think I should be the poster child for resilience.

So again, I ask why?

Because I live in a world that allows the media to tell me what beauty looks like. It is unfortunate that we allow others to own our beauty. I had to take my beauty back in that situation. I did that through recognizing that I was just as beautiful with my kinky hair, full lips, wide hips, and busty chest. When I decided to have a natural look, I knew it would be challenging. It is hard being well educated and not conforming to Corporate America’s view of beauty. However, I had to do what felt right to me. When I decided to go natural, my friend and stylist asked me why. My response- I wanted to look and feel organic. Organic? I pride myself on being genuine. The real deal! You will rarely catch me in fancy clothes. Jeans and a shirt are my thing. I was tired of putting so much effort into my hair when it did not mean that much to me. I love to feel pretty and special, but why does that mean my hair has to be straight?

I decided to own my beauty by just letting my hair be what I define beauty to be… in all it’s kinky curly glory! So OWN your beauty by making beauty what you are and not what you see in others. OWN your beauty by being authentic, the real deal. Therefore, let your real deal be what you define it as and not others. And I will add, there are occasions when I go straight, that’s the beauty and versatility of natural hair!

Can you relate to April’s experience?
How did you overcome?