The Steps I Took Toward Embracing My Natural Beauty
I know having insecurities is something that many humans can relate to, especially during that adolescent stage. That seems to be when most people become aware of how they look in comparison to their peers as far as being attractive or unattractive. We may notice these things at a younger age, but this appears to be the defining time where the awareness is amplified. I remember becoming insecure about the way I look around my high school days.
I was a cheerleader, and to stand out even more, I was the only black girl on my high school team during two of those years. Also, my body was different from everyone else. All the girls had feminine features, and I was built more muscular. Some of the basketball coaches referred to me as Serena Williams. That is how I was shaped.
During this time, I was so uncomfortable in my own body. I didn't like my big hands or fat feet. I didn't like being too dark or muscular. I stood out like a sore thumb, and mentally, I wasn't happy with how I looked. I wanted to fit in and be more feminine with long straight hair and lighter skin because my mind was programmed to believe that is what was more attractive. The process of accepting myself started during my college years.
These are some of the steps I took along my journey of embracing my natural beauty...
1. I returned natural in 2012.
My overall college experience was monumental, not just in the classroom but outside of the classroom as well. I was learning and unlearning quite a bit and when I decided that I no longer wanted to get a perm, that was a part of that process. I did the big chop and never looked back. In 2016, I decided that I finally wanted to loc up. I started my loc journey off with yarn twists because a part of me was not ready for the "ugly stage".
Although I had gone natural, I still wore weave as a back up (which is very beneficial when you need a break from the maintenance of taking care of natural hair) but I realized I was using it as a crutch and not fully addressing a deeper level of insecurity. I took the yarn out earlier than I was supposed to but I knew it was time. As I was taking it out, the freedom that I felt was undeniable. I wasn't expecting it to be as emotional as it was.
I've been able to fully enjoy my natural hair and it's been empowering. Who knows, I may cut it all off one day. Either way, I decided I was beautiful no matter how I choose to wear my hair and I love the way it is at this moment in time. This was a step towards me embracing my blackness, in its raw form.
2. I discovered and got to know my Inner Beauty.
How did I do this? By being intimate with myself through yoga, meditation, dancing, healing, and just choosing to engage in things that I enjoy. I tapped back into figuring out what makes my heart smile. When you feel good, you look good. I know how to create joy within myself, no matter where I'm at. My alone time is sacred to me.
I went to the beach the other day, had the time of my life holding my nose and just floating in the ocean. Playing in the water and laying out in the sun. So, for me, communing with nature is a part of cultivating and tapping into that inner beauty. Find out what works for you and do it as much as possible.
3. I create my own standards of beauty.
Through steps 1 and 2, I have been able to break away from what I was taught or programmed to believe (directly and indirectly) to discover my true beauty, figuring out who I am beyond these false perceptions and labels. The more I started to step in Love with who I was internally, my ability to accept myself externally amplified. I embraced my physical self/features and went deeper to discover other parts of myself.
To be beautiful is way more than what I look like on the outside. What you create for yourself plays a role in the beauty you exude. When I choose to face my flaws, I find beauty in that. When I choose to stay committed to my evolution, maturation and well being, I see beauty in that.
My perspective on what it means to be beautiful has expanded, and I have let go of limiting myself to anyone's expectations or beliefs on what this is supposed to look like. I don't wait for anyone to validate this for me. I've learned to validate myself and share from that space. I have found my own through getting to know myself on all levels..mentally, physically and spiritually.
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