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Curly Nikki

On the Couch with Niah

By January 27th, 202146 Comments

On the Couch with Niah

My “Happy New Year” Story

Most people typically celebrate the new year in January, but me on the other hand, celebrate on my born day. Granted, it’s still in a new year, but I was born on March 12, 1979 at 5am and that is when life begin for me as I know it, so when better to celebrate newness?!?!

So no, I didn’t make a new year’s resolution, but I did, however decide that I will continue to strive towards greatness and to live life to its fullest starting with my hair.

To start out my new year, I did it with a bang. Not the unusual, but something that I love to do and what liberates me. Guessed it yet?!!? I did the Big Chop [for the 3rd and last time] and ahhh…it felt so good. Some may not understand why I do it and many may not support it, but here is a brief explanation…

For many years during my youth, I was told by strangers that I was a pretty girl, but I never believed it because I was teased so badly growing up. From my skinny long legs, to my deep chocolate complexion and my over bite that took over my small framed face, I was convinced that all these things made me ugly. Being teased from kids in school is one thing, but then to have it come from your family, the people you love and trust is another. Because I trusted them, I trusted what they said about me and I didn’t believe I was beautiful nor was I comfortable in my own skin. So I hid from everyone with silence. Because my mother wasn’t good at doing hair, especially my very kinky course hair, my mother did what everyone was doing in the late 80’s; she put a Jerry Curl in my hair. It wasn’t so bad until I went to visit relatives over the summer who didn’t know how to treat it and let me swim everyday in a chlorine filled pool, and not washing my hair or moisturizing it afterwards. By the end of summer, my hair was nothing short of a disaster. I had patches everywhere and it was completely broken off. That was when I experienced my first BC. This did not help with the teasing as I was only in elementary school at the time. My mother was told, the only way to restore my hair was for me to get another jerry curl. Bad move. In middle school, the teasing got even worse. No one was wearing curls anymore at this time, and to add insult to injury, I was now wearing braces too, so you could imagine what I went through. By this time, my self-esteem was non-existent. Completely shot. My silence grew to the point people thought I was a mute. Even “friends” in high school nicknamed me “Tinker Bell” because when I did speak, it was extremely low. All I ever knew from being in elementary school on up to college was being an ugly duckling. I tried at every cost to make myself invincible.

At the age of 22, I had met someone who would one day be my fiancé. I moved away from my home and started a new life. We planned for a marriage, but in the meantime, I became pregnant. In my first trimester at 3 months pregnant, I was feeling miserable, sick and depressed about living in a foreign place (Northern VA opposed to FL) where I had relocated to to be with my current boyfriend. One day, as I was walking through the mall with my head down, a young homosexual guy and a girl where walking past me, and with such conviction and genuine context he said, “she is GORGEOUS!” I lifted my head and looked around to see who he was talking about and to my surprise, they were both looking at me with a warm and honest smile. It may seem simple, but to have a total stranger make such a statement took me by surprise.

I went home, looked in the mirror and cried because I still couldn’t see what they saw. To fast forward, a couple of years went by. I had my daughter, who was now at the age of 4 and her father and I had called it quits. I was still battling with self-esteem issues. I picked up an Essence magazine from the grocery store and read an article about the comedian and Grammy winning actress Monique, who talked about the hard times and the abuse she experienced through her life. She said one statement that stood out to me and I have kept it with me ever since…”I deserve to love me!” She wrote it on her mirror in her bathroom and said it every morning until she begin to believe it in her heart and her soul. I decided to do the same thing, but I did it a little differently. I wanted to go back to that little girl that was told she was not beautiful. I needed healing and I needed it to start from the time I could remember being called ugly or kind of cute for a dark skinned girl. So without hesitation, I shaved my hair off. I wanted to see what I looked like completely naked. I wanted to love and accept me for all of me. That turned my life around and I begin to love myself and more than I ever thought possible. Healing took place and I am in love with me. At the age of 32, not only am I living and loving life, I have a wonderful man in my life who supports my natural hair and I am currently in school finishing my degree of Psychology. I broke my silence and came out of hiding…literally. I am the Co-Founder and Vice President of an upcoming non-profit organization by the name of E.S.T Unity out of Washington, DC that empowers women of color on self-image, financial stability, relationships, physical and mental health and everything and anything a woman of color goes through on a day to day basis. We are a new organization still building but we are growing strong with over 100 members in just a year. All of this, and to add on, I have a beautiful 8 year old daughter and I vowed to tell her how beautiful she is every day inside and out with her beautiful natural tresses as well. Once I found the love I needed within, I’ve had fun with my hair. I’ve rocked a ‘fro, locs, twist-outs, braid-outs, and yes, permed it again [unfortunately] and wore it straight and long, blunt bangs, and finally, a sow in weave during my transition. Yes, I did it all, but I’ve never felt more special than I do when I wear it natural, so the BC has happened yet again and this time, natural is where home is.

So with that…Happy New Year to me! Loving myself…everything about me and striving for excellence. xoxoxo!!

my daughter

On the Couch with NiahOn the Couch with Niah
On the Couch with Niah

46 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    OMG – What a beautiful child. And she looks just like her mother. Georgous!!!

  • Kenni says:

    I loved your story! My favorite picture is the one with you wearing the green dress. I am transitioning from very short (pixie) relaxed hair, and it is so hard. Your pic is making me want to just shave it off. Thank you for sharing!

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow..you are so pretty! I can relate to your story on many levels. The fact that you even live in the same area is great.

  • Niah says:

    @Anonymous on 06/22/11 at 3:33pm –

    WoW! Thats what my mom used to say!!!! Thank you for the reminder and the compliments. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    The ButterFly has emerged from its cacoon!!! InspirationAL story for sure! Both you and your daughter are BEAUTIFUL!

  • Annabel says:

    Niah you are such an inspiration and this story shows that you are not only gorgeous on the outside, but also a strong and beautiful soul underneath it all.

    I can relate to your story on so many levels! Kids and adults can be unintentionally cruel, leaving their marks on one's life for way too long. As black women, we have to teach our little ones to embrace and love the beauty they were born with. It's all part of the healing process.

    I can remember as clear as yesterday, coming home from school in tears, because some insensitive child made fun of me and my afro-puffs. Words hurt just as much as sticks and stones. I remember at 11, I watched the episode of Sister, Sister, where Tamera decides to wear her hair straight after a makeover and becomes instantly popular and more liked than Tia. How could I not watch that and internalize a message that said it's ugly to be black and nappy.

    Black hair is so beautiful and unique… I'm disappointed that it took me almost 30 years to realize this.

    Your daughter is super cute and has gorgeous curls, she looks just like you!

  • Niah says:

    To: Anonymous at 12:35am on June 12,2011.

    Please know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made! God made you and like a fingerprint, there is no one other person like you, so that makes you special. You are beautiful and you deserve to love you. No matter the weight, the height, the color…anything. You are you and that in itself makes you beautiful. You're life can turn around as well as mine did. You just have to believe in yourself, know your worth and your beauty from the inside out, and be confident. Once you do that, everyone else will see it and believe it too. I was you just a few years ago, so i can testify to that. I wish you all the best on this wonderful journey of loving yourself more. its a beautiful thing. Smile!

    Niah

  • Anonymous says:

    First I'd like to say that was a beautiful story. For the first time I felt can really relate to someone. Reading your story made me think of my life which brought me to tears. I too had a very awkward childhood. I had to deal with the usual braces and orthodontic surgery and also dealing with my weight. I always felt extremely uncomfortable with myself, to the point that I didn't even want to leave my house. Even-though I live in florida, I wore baggy hoodies from 6th grade all the to my senior year. I couldn't even make eye contact with people. I felt like I was on the sidelines watching instead of living my life. I am now 23 and I'm still struggling with those insecurities. Its nice to know someone like me can turn their life around though. I'm glad your in a happy place now

  • KRISTEN says:

    Hey Niah Pooh you've always been a beautiful chocolate drop, It was such a pleasure reading your story and I'm so happy that you've found the love in you! Keep loving yourself because no one can love you better!

    Kristen C.

  • Misterr Carterr says:

    I am so proud of you old friend. 🙂

  • Lillian says:

    OMGeeee!!! This brought tears to my eyes just reading. I am soo glad that you were able to overcome the negativity in your past. I feel that this could have ended worse by depression or suicide, but again, you overcame that and used what was meant for bad to help someone else who may be struggling with those same insecurities. We must all remember that we are created in God's image and his love is all we will ever need.

  • Niah says:

    No worries sis. Maybe their comment was not necessarily to criticize. Unfortunately, they may never know the emotions I felt while typing this story possibly causing some of the grammatical errors. If that alone took away from my story, that saddens me however, the majority took something from it. At the end of the day, I still take things with a grain of salt and Im very happy! 🙂

  • The Unknown says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story Niah! We all start from somewhere and I'm glad you allowed your struggles to make you strong and serve as encouragement for others. You are beautiful! And I'm blessed to have you as one of my closest and loyal friends!

    It amazes me how people can still make negative comments after such a beautiful story. Not the time or place! Go back and re-read this story, apply it to your life and find some happiness, Sir or Madam.

    Sincerely,
    Ashanti's Godmother

  • Quiana says:

    Very moving story. You are beautiful and I'm glad you know it and you let your daughter know how beautfiful she is.

  • Ashley says:

    Such an inspiring story! I went through the same healing process. I was always bigger than my friends and didn't realize that black women were naturally "thick" until I went to an HBCU and met women with the same shape as me and it being accepted as beautiful! I did the BC twice, the first time b/c my hair was damaged, the second, for me…. And I'm loving it! I too vow to tell my future children how beautiful they are at every opportunity b/c I lacked that reassurance as a child! GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION! I am in the DMV so if you need support I would love to be of help!

  • MOT-16-COWANS says:

    Niah,
    This story is wonderful! It’s so like you to be open and write in a way that we all can understand and appreciate. One of my favorite quotes is one by educator, Marva Collins:
    “Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide.”

    I am so glad that you have liberated yourself to BE yourself. The world is a better place because of that! Kisses to the extension of your legacy, Ms. Ashanti.

    @Natasha, I know right?!

  • Niah Smith says:

    Wow! You all have touched me so much with your comments. I knew everyone in some shape or form have been teased because kids can be cruel, even those in your own family, but never did i realize how so many relate to me.
    I'm proud of who i've become and how all of those things people said to me and about me only made me stronger. It's funny because i look back and see all of those that teased me and i look at me and see the beauty from within me shines so bright on the outside making me look younger than any of them :-). However, i do not and will not treat anyone in the manner they treated me, no matter what. I am a child of God and i know i am fearfully and wonderfully made as everyone else.
    i'm at peace with my ripe shade of mahagony brown skin, my kinky coils, my long skinny legs and my big smile. All of these things have gotten me modeling jobs and other great opportunities. As mentioned, i am the co-founder of an organization that empowers women of color to better deal with their issues of self-image, relationships, finances and other everyday things that women of color deal with on a daily basis. its funny how things come full circle. 🙂
    Thanks again for all the support ladies. You're comments mean more than you know!!!
    SincerelyNiah

  • Anonymous says:

    How could a woman with that bone structure,perfect teeth, a FLAWLESS complexion and dimples to top it all off ever think she's anything but beautiful? She can rock a caesar and still look completely feminine! It goes to show you that everybody has image issues 🙁 PS. I see modeling in that baby's future

  • Anonymous says:

    To my sister truly hearing your story is such a blessing. You are a beautiful person inside and out.I fully connect to your story in so many ways. I to was teased and have battled with self esteem and body image issues for years. Always feeling like the ugly duckling or chucky money I dieted like crazy and dated all the wrong people to connect with what I thought a women needed to feel beautiful. As I've grown, growing my hair is symbolic to who I naturally am so diet, no make up nothing just my natural hair sprouting up and I love it…..today I delight in fully accepting myself and loving myself and having wonderful friends like u that reflect the light of GOD……
    Keestra
    Ps ur a model quit playing gurl

  • Anonymous says:

    Girl you cute as shit!!! Keep it pimping pretty girl

  • BreukelensFinest says:

    OMG this story is so inspiring. It must have taken so much courage to go from long flowing permed hair to such a short look. but she looks fabulous and her smile shows even more

    missdeeplyrooted.blogspot.com

  • Tonya says:

    you are absolutely gorgeous!! and so is your daughter!

    celebrate what God gave you because girl you look like a model out of a magazine!! you are very photogenic and a smile that will brighten any day!!

    …and you know children and adults are playa haters…even when you are young…so those folk probably saw your beauty, but didn't want you to know it and own it.

    but, you can definetly say, "how ya like me now"!

    be blessed!!

  • Happy J!! says:

    You are gorgeous! Your hair is fierce! Your story was simply amazing! I wish you much success on your personal and professional life!

  • loveletters says:

    I love this story so much mainly b/c of the retrospective take on it. How many of us are wondering why we go through deep and seemingly unnecessary trials? In reading this story immediately thought, 1) wow she is gorgeous and 2) look at where the "awful" journey led you. AMAZING. There are so many young people needlessly suffering from low self esteem which can lead to dangerous behavior and ultimately suicide. this is story is so powerful to me b/c of what you chose to do after your valley. THANK YOU for sharing and having the courage and creating the balance in your life to help others. You've put your heart out there and your daughter will reap the benefits 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    that was such a beautiful story I was also teased all through school for being really skinny my self-esteem is really low as well but wen im told im a pretty girl by my boyfriend an others I dont c it either but im trying to work on that, Thanks for that wonderful story

  • Deondra says:

    I believe you, but it's hard to imagine anyone telling you that you are anything short of gorgeous. I am serious! Absolutely stunning. It's crazy because usually a hairstyle can jazz people up, but that low cut is perfect to show off that beautiful face.

  • Anonymous says:

    wow Iluuuuv your hair cut I had this hair cut before and my mom never got use to it neither my sisters guys actually luved it and always wanted to touch my head smh. I've been itching to do it again but my family told me no 🙁 I luv your hair cut Go Girl!!!!!!

  • Lisa says:

    Isn't it terrible how in our ignorance and lack of self-love as a people we continue the pattern of damage to our own? I am a teacher and see this horror show going on everyday-and it just angers and saddens me. There is beauty in every child. I am so happy that you are healing and have come to the realization that as part of the marvelous diversity of God's garden, you are beautiful and should be loved and appreciated for just who you were made to be! Your daughter is a carbon-copy of you my dear, lol! It's like looking at a living photo of you as a child. How beautiful you were. Please continue to encourage your child both for the beauty of her appearance (her skin color, her natural hair, her smile) as well as the beauty of her character. I love that you are transforming your personal story into a such a needed service for young girls and women. Keep learning and growing; and continue to love yourself!

  • Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful story to match an equally beautiful woman 🙂

  • prettybrowngirly says:

    you. better. werq.

    as a fellow brownie, i know the challenges of appreciating your complexion. i was also super skinny growing up, with an overbite!

    congratulations on loving you. continue you to love you and the rest of the world will have no option but to do the same.

  • Natasha says:

    AWWWW!!!! I didn't know ALL of that about you! I love you even more!!! LOL! You're such a beautiful, wonderful person – inside and out!!!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you! Your story speaks similar to mine. You are beautiful too, keep making others feel the same through your organization.

  • Anonymous says:

    its a great story, some of the grammatical errors took away from it though. Just saying this to help not to criticize. I'm glad you began to love yourself, you are truly a beautiful woman

  • Unknown says:

    Yikes! I have never ever identified with someone so much. I too have an 8 year old, was born in 1979, live in Florida (Miami) and will finish my degree in December. . . and big chopped for the third and final time (I was consistently natural for 3 years but I said eff it and cut it off)! Girl you are beautiful and your daughter is gorgeous! good luck with your journey! Blessings 🙂

  • Ezinwanyi says:

    you are beautiful and worthy to be loved. I hope you instill in your daughter the self-esteem you had to discover later in life. As Maury would say "YOU ARE THE MOTHER" cause she looks just like you, same radiant smile.

    That is another reason why I am wearing my hair natural, my daughter. I want her to be comfortable in her skin and I am glad you have reached a point in your life where your joy comes from within.

    May God Bless You!
    chinyere

  • Astrine says:

    Niah girl I'm soooo proud of you. You are a truly beautiful person inside and out. From the first time you offered me a seat next to you on a crowded bus. I knew you were good people. Kiss baby girl for me. I'm so glad you have realized the YOU God created you to be… I love and miss u..
    Your sista
    Astrine

  • Anonymous says:

    I almost felt like I was reading about myself. I am 32, grew up with self image issues, working on a girls mentoring organization and today, I just did big chop #4 for the last time. Be Blessed!

  • JollyJoy says:

    BEAUTIFUL STORY!!! THANKS FOR SHARING!!!

  • Trae says:

    Very inspiring story!!!! I have defeinitely been where you are! And I am still working on me!!! but I am elated that you have recognized your full potential <3

  • Pecancurls says:

    You and your daughter are beautiful. Such warm and glowing smiles. Keep up the good work with your non-profit.

  • b. says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    I totally agree with the people you saw in the mall — you ARE gorgeous!

  • JMartinez says:

    What a beautiful story! You are beautiful and so is your daughter.

    I was teased a lot as a kid too. My fiance says I'm beautiful. I still don't see it, but I'm learning to accept myself 🙂

  • TiAnna Mae says:

    The swan has emerged!

    tiannamae.blogspot.com

  • Barbara Naturally Speaking says:

    Wow! Such a wonderful story. As a kid I was teased profusely for being skinny, and being an "A" student. I completely identify. It's a great feeling when you learn to love you for you, natural hair and all. I also tell my daughter that she's beautiful and that her beautiful natural kinky/curly hair is beautiful. You're beautiful and so is your story, and your daughter.

    barbaranaturallyspeaking.blogspot.com

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow your daughter looks exactly like you!

  • Anonymous says:

    you are gorgeous and I'm happy you've come to that realisation. Keep on telling your daughter she is beautiful inside and out we don't do that enough as parents. Keep on shining

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