I wish my hair was like yours Miss Amber.”
A 9-year-old girl said this to me a few weeks ago. Instead of accepting the intended compliment, I paused, stood still and stared at her. She had beautiful braids with beads at the end of each strand in coordinating colors. I thought to myself, “Why does she want my hair? Is she not happy with hers?” Then it clicked – I had a young female mind in America once.
Young girls are always comparing themselves to others and aspiring to be something they’re not. I remember pointing to Tia and Tamara on Sister, Sister and telling my mom that I wanted my hair to look like that after my first perm.
“Will it be straight like theirs?”, I asked.
Somewhere along the lines of self-acceptance in my 20s, I became comfortable with my own appearance. A fluffy and unruly multi-textured ‘fro atop a slim frame with minimal curves, brownish olive skin and a size 9 foot is what I’ve netted out to look like at 27.
I love it.
So much so that I don’t want anyone’s hair, body, skin or shoe size but my own. Should it take nearly two decades to cultivate such confidence? No. I’d argue that self-acceptance and pride in one’s own appearance can be taught early on – around age 9, in fact. Young girls should be taught to embrace who they are and how they look, and not to compare their own reflection to society’s standard of beauty – or to anyone else’s for that matter.
Young female beauty is tender, impressionable, sensitive and insecure. To it I owe affirmation in its own individuality of expression. As a woman, so do you.