The Confidence To Be You

The journey to truly loving and accepting yourself can be a road filled with bumps, pits and potholes.  The quest to accept you for whom you really are can often be made harder by the people that love you the most.  Let me make the picture clear.

Take my Zoe.  She’s a natural head girl.  One of her favorite styles is wearing her hair twisted out into an Afro.  It’s quite the becoming style on her.  The first couple of days of the hairstyle are on fleek to say the least.

However after a week, even with pulling it out, it starts to look matted.  That’s when Zoe really loves it.  She will rock that style for as long as I will allow her to.  She rocks it with such confidence and swag.

Here’s the problem: I will often say to her, “Zoe it’s time to get that hair washed, it’s looking so matted and nappy.  You can’t walk around looking like that.”  Her great grandmother will say, “Nikki do something to that baby hair, she look like she’s been picking cotton.”  Just like that we have reduced a self confident, proud to rock her nappy hair, black girl, to a little black girl that begins to question the natural beauty of her kinks.

While it’s subtle, over time it can really begin to eat at the core of her confidence.  Here’s a girl that goes to an awesome school, but the school has less than 1% blacks enrolled.  Zoe is generally the only Black girl in her class.  Girls with long, flowing hair, surround her, yet she is so proud to rock her Angela Davis Afro.  That takes courage, but most of all confidence.

No, it’s not one of the kids at her school that begins to chip away at that confidence; it’s her dear old mother.  I worked so hard to expose her to loving the skin that she is in, yet hidden in the tone and words of the sentences that I so casually dispense to her; I send her a message that something is wrong with how she looks.

Well it ends today.  I will praise and celebrate her twists, ponytails, Afro puffs, blowouts and yes even her matted I don’t care, it’s me look.  I will stop rearranging her style, tugging at her clothes and making sure every inch of her is placed just right.

I will let her style live boldly and loudly!  I will let her redefine and then define again who she is.  I will let her live the best Zoe that she can and I will love her in it.  I will encourage her individuality and not engulf her with mine.  I will respect her courage to be her and not reject.  I will be constructive and complimentary and not contrite and contemptuous in feedback with her.  Lastly I will serve as a guide to helping Zoe discover Zoe and not as a guard.

She is beautiful just the way she is and she deserves to be confident in whom she is!  That’s all for now!