While not every dark-skinned black girl grows up feeling under-appreciated and unattractive, many do. At this point, it’s an epidemic. For young black girls growing up in predominantly white spheres, it can be easy to feel undervalued and invisible to fellow peers and it’s even easier to fall into the habit of downplaying your worth and feeling less. Here are some tips to help you break out of the cycle of low self-esteem and start to feel your best:
1. Make Peace With Your Features And Hair Texture
It’s easy to fall into the if-only trap and believe that you’d be prettier if only your nose was slimmer, or your hair texture were a little less coily. It’s undeniable that society places those with more Eurocentric features on a pedestal; but, the truth is, beauty isn’t a monopoly that is only accessible to white and biracial people. Wide noses, thick lips, dark skin, coily hair and shapely bodies are beautiful, regardless of the toxic message that society sends about them.
The only way to build your self-esteem and develop confidence is to make peace with your features and hair texture, and to rock it as proudly and boldly as you can—regardless of what everybody else thinks. Hating your features, skin tone and hair texture is not going to make them disappear. Instead, it’ll only cause you to feel worse about yourself and tear down your sense of self-worth. Accepting yourself for the way that you look is the best way to overcome ‘ugly girl’ syndrome and begin to recognize how worthy and valuable you are.
2. Fake It Until You Make It
You may not always feel confident and it may take a while to cultivate genuine love for the way you look. But, the great thing about the human brain is that you can actually trick yourself into liking something that you originally weren’t a fan of. If you begin to correct your negative habits of self-talk and practice re-affirming and celebrating the way that you look, you’ll eventually grow to love yourself and your phenotype for real.
3. Emulate Your Favorite Dark-Skinned Black Role Models
One of the best ways to come into your own, is to develop beauty and style icons that you look up to and attempt to emulate what it is that you like about the way they carry themselves. From the poise and elegance of Lupita N’yongo to the effortless grace of Ryan Destiny, you can adopt and emulate the attributes of the people you admire, and use that to build your confidence and expression of your unique, individual beauty.
4. Support Dark-Skinned Black Women In The Media
Darker-skinned black female representation is not just a nice idea—it’s vital for the self-esteem of black women and girls everywhere. We need to see ourselves represented as feminine, beautiful, and attractive and there needs to be an abundance of different dark-skinned black women that young girls can look up to. As a quirky, kind of nerdy black girl I’d love to see more gorgeous dark-skinned black girls with the hipster aesthetic.
I’d also love to see more stunning black girls on television, in commercials, in films and on billboards. One way that we can bring this about, is to support the dark-skinned black women that already exist in the media, including with our wallets. Black women’s enthusiastic support of other black women will show that there is a market for dark-skinned black women and begin to open the doors for us to receive better representation in the media.
5. Base Your Self-Worth On Something Other Than Looks
Don’t get me wrong, looks are important. But they aren’t and will never be everything. In fact, one of the unfortunate and defining characteristics of beauty is that it doesn’t last long. It simply has no staying power. Thus, it’s in your best interest to form a strong network of people who support you and love you regardless of your looks.
Likewise, develop and cultivate an abundance of hobbies and passions that will keep you busy and occupied and in which you can place your worth. Lastly, don’t forget to be in touch with your spirituality and determine a purpose for your life that is bigger than superficial things like looks. What are you bringing to the world? How will you leave the world a better place before the end of your lifetime? Those are the important questions.
Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law.