It was girls’ night out. Me and my three girlfriends all had a long week, and we couldn’t think of a better way to bring it to an end than with a few drinks and a nice little turn up. I remember feeling pretty that night. I tried a new hair style, my makeup was perfectly blended, and my outfit hugged my petite, little curves just right. I truly felt confident…and I liked it. We all took a few pictures and met up with another group of people and waited for the fun night to begin. While we were all sitting in the living room waiting for the Uber to arrive, the conversations amongst the group were flowing. Somehow, we got on the topic of beauty and one of the guys said, “I have no problem acknowledging when someone is beautiful.” He then went on to individually call my three friends names… but he never called mine. “It’s not a big deal”, I thought to myself, brushing it off. The same guy then turned to one of his friends and said “What do you think?” and he agreed pointing at my three friends and listing all of their flawless characteristics. Everyone in the room and agreed and joined in on their praises. And as I stood right next to them smiling, agreeing with every compliment they got…I was hoping someone would remember me and say my name too…but they never did. All night, I watched men flock to my three friends and watched women peering over at them either with admiration or jealousy. They were glowing like fresh flowers in the spring, and next to them, I felt like the withering daisy begging for sunlight. I felt invisible…because in reality, I was.
I went to the bathroom for a minute to freshen up and before I pulled out my powder brush, I stopped and stared at myself in the mirror for what seemed like ages. I asked myself, “What’s the difference between me and them?”..”What did I do wrong tonight?” But before I could pick my head back up, that evil voice in my head answered back and said “What’s NOT different?”. Their hair was soft and curly, their noise was small and European, and most noticeably, they were of lighter complexion…much lighter. Physically, I was nothing like them. And the longer I looked at myself, the more and more that confidence I had at the beginning of the night chipped away. I started thinking about how much easier it would be if I was lighter…how much prettier I would be…how guys would like me more….how much more accepted I would be. It took me back to when I was fourteen years old, crying in my closet floor, asking God why I got the short end of the stick. I remember begging Him to make me lighter, begging him to make my nose smaller, begging him to make me prettier. I felt like there was a thick glass keeping me from experiencing the beauty that I always wanted and more than anything, I wanted God to just break that glass for me. And I felt this way for years.
I woke up the next day, and I went straight to the mirror and looked at myself long and hard…replaying that entire night in my head. I did that for days. And every single morning, those same thoughts would come over me like I was that 14 year old freshman in high school again. Until one day, I woke up and felt different. I went to the mirror and instead of critiquing myself, I smiled. I remember tilting my head slightly to the side, touching my 4B kinky textured hair and just genuinely smiling…because it was finally okay. God had finally broken the glass, but instead of getting the beauty I THOUGHT I wanted, I learned to accept the beauty that I already had.
With that being said, the answer is no…..No, I don’t have super exotic and curly hair. No, I don’t have the perfect coke-shaped, curvaceous body. No, I don’t have a small, pointy noise. And no, I am definitely not a yellow boned girl. But that’s okay…because what I AM is a tall, super slim, wide nosed, CHOCOCALTE, Nigerian woman. And while that may not be the ideal beauty, it’s MY beauty…and I am finally okay with that. I may not always be the first to be approached by a man when out with my friends, I may not be “society’s” definition of beautiful, and I may not be the “it” girl that I desperately wanted to be growing up….But that’s okay….because that’s not what I was destined to be. I was destined to look like this. I was destined to struggle with how I looked and I was destined to be vulnerable with my struggles. I was destined to be that 14 year old girl crying in her closet. I was destined to feel invisible that night amongst my friends…. And it was all because of this very moment. I was destined to write this post today to show others that I am proud of my melanin and hopefully inspire others to do the same. I was destined to once feel like a withering daisy begging for sunlight, so that I could finally blossom into the dark rose that I always was.
It took me a long time, and at times, I still struggle. However, I have finally realized what God wanted me to see. Those tears on my closet floor weren’t for me, but they were for every dark skin girl reading this who feels that they are less than. They were for all those girls who feel like they are ugly because of their skin tone…for those girls who feel inferior….and for those girls who feel invisible. Because now I have the wisdom to tell YOU that those are all lies. You are a queen bathed in deepest, richest gold. Understand that your skin places your beauty in a category that may be misunderstood by some, but glorified by many. Every day that you step out into the world, your dark skin makes you glow in a way that others could only dream. So when the enemy tries to make you feel invisible, hold your head up high. Because even when you don’t believe it, know that the rest of the world sees how beautiful you are…and one day, you will too.