by Bennii of The Culture Pine

Since turning 21, I have un-subconsciously been taken on a journey of self-discovery, recovery and self-acceptance. The first part, self-discovery, invited me to re-acquaint myself with the wiser and, slightly less naive individual staring back when I looked in the mirror. The second part, recovery, allowed me to move past the image of myself that I had obtained over the years, which strongly reflected my position as a young black girl in a predominately white society. Lastly, I reached a stage of self-acceptance, where I was able to love the intensity of my dark skin, the beauty of my hair, the power of my curves but most importantly, the power of my mind.

Now, a lot has changed in a mere decade since I was a kid growing up in the 90’s, and not much for the better. My sisters and cousins, your nieces and daughters are being moulded into the young women we hope for them to be, amidst a society wrapped up in a celebrity culture. A culture which find’s pleasure in the downfall of another being. A culture where people allow mainstream media to dictate what they should look like. A culture, that is so plagued by insecurities that we have black people lightening their skin, while white people risk cancer by lying under sunbeds all day. All of it is in the name of ‘beauty’.

Like me, many of you will have reached that point in your life, when you’re ready to love the person you are. The thing that concerns me is; if I have only just been able to free myself from the false imagery surrounding our race, how hard must it be for some of the kids today? How hard must it be to see the beauty in something as natural as the curls in your hair, when the people around you disregard it? It’s always upsetting to hear a child refer to their hair as ‘ugly’, but who can blame them when all they see on TV are women who are supposed to look like them, but there isn’t a kink or curl in sight?

Now, I may still be young and yes, there is a lot in life I have yet to learn. However, I do know that there are some things in life that you have to realise on your own. As much as we want to, we cannot make someone see the beauty in themselves that we see. It kind of defeats the whole point of SELF-acceptance. To be able to deal with what is expected of them by society, takes a lot of strength for a young person who still doesn’t truly know who they are yet. So, as much as finding my own way to self-acceptance brings about thoughts, caught up in the realisation of this underlying issue, I have to accept that I cannot control the finding of someone else’s own self-acceptance

Do you remember when you truly found who YOU are?