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My Self-Love Journey As A Black Girl

In this blog entry Annaise Mushinzimana explores her own journey towards self-love as a black woman and her tips to overcome obstacles.

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How did you feel when you looked in the mirror today?

Looking back at my teen years and, jeez, I’m still in teen mode because I just entered my twenties really, I can’t say that I knew much about self love or what it is exactly. Having bigger facial features and a darker complexion which both would not match the Eurocentric norm was what I grew up with and it used to bug me.

Saying it out loud actually stinks. There is no 101 know-how script on self love/worth, especially for black girls because the point of view of myself back then would have been less harsh if I’d had known about it. It is complicated to learn something that is not being taught, it requires self investment and discipline to do it yourself and those were not on my schedule as a young teen. 

You suddenly became part of an unsigned battle between trying to flourish in your adolescence and finding yourself whilst wanting to fit in. How are you going to be yourself when you want to fit in?

This battlefield with internalized grenades is a mission I could have avoided although I was already having a bit of confidence, I was lacking self love. Let’s just state the fact that it is more difficult to accept yourself when you notice you don’t fit society’s beauty standards, especially when derogatory prejudices are being attached to your race.

Acceptance And Admiration

The word acceptance is often used when people talk about self love and I really tried to accept myself but that just rubs me the wrong way. Acceptance is not reached by the simple thought of: „Oh well that’s who I am and I guess that’s what I have to deal with.“

I will elaborate: Acceptance to me means like coming to terms with things and just seeing it for what it is. Like a simple mathematical equation such as 1 plus 1 equals 2. We accept the answer is 2 because it just is and it is logical. However when it comes down to yourself accepting is not enough. It alone won’t help you love yourself. Call it an unpopular opinion. 

Now the question would be what would I suggest then huh: Convert accepting to admiring! I will say it again: Convert accepting to admiring YOURSELF! 

Admiration comes more from within and what you feel inside, shines out to the world! Therefore, your mental health is also as important as how you care about your appearance. So, I just started to become my own admirer, doing things for myself. Trust me it’s the little things that boost your self esteem such as trying new hair products for my curls, unfollowing IG influencers that do not resonate with me or represent any of my physical features, tap more into my heritage/culture or simply treating myself with snacks.   

It doesn’t make you all self obsessed or self-centered. You will start to comprehend that you come uniquely in that one body with that skin complexion, heritage, hair structure and with all its features and appreciate it for its divinity. No doubt, on some days, it is harder to admire “yourself.” 

That’s another point, it’s not like once you are on that road of self confidence/ love that you will be on that high 24/7. There will be harder days, maybe weeks or longer phases but making it through them only really adds to that journey. At least it’s what I believe, I don’t want to sound like some motivational coach for an audience but I’d rather be my own coach. So I’m going to stick with that for now.

I am not a big affirmation person but starting to say you look good to yourself while getting ready, does help! I mean don’t deny that you have had moments where you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, thinking „Uhm yes hello we are looking good today!“ And yes, if I want to change something I can but I want to admire what I have and not talk it down the whole time. This growth is for me and not you, that needs to be internalized.

Us humans subconsciously want to be pleased by others and seek some form of validation to be confirmed that we are accepted. So one question to whoever is reading this: Have you ever asked yourself: „Do they even like/date *add your race*? 

Well, I have done that (too) many times and I think most Bpoc/Poc have too. Thinking about it right now, just makes me shake my head since being black shouldn’t be questioned. Like, huh? But I can’t blame it. Yet, why would my first concern be my skin color when that’s not what I am limited to. For that I want to hug my younger self and let her know there should not be the need for validation by people or crushes, especially men. We don’t need that male gaze, honey. The way people perceived me was something I reflected on myself.

Well you see who gets adored and asked out here and there, you will start comparing yourself to see if you fit the criteria and then “you” see that you don’t. Followed by you internalizing hate towards your beauty and it forming into colorism, featurism and misogyny … just because he doesn’t like you or they didn’t let you sit with them or she gaslighted you. It happens unintentionally but spreads quickly within.

No one ever wants to be too dark, right? But also not too light/fair because having a sun-kissed tan is more desirable. Well, not everyone has that option though to complain about being too light. No, let me rephrase. 

Not everyone has that privilege to choose the level of pigmentation of their skin! I mean, I thought being black made me less desirable but it’s also the level of complexion. That is also how I noticed at a young age, being lighter has definitely more advantages. I realized that in order to love myself I have to really take in what I see in the mirror, how I feel inside and detach myself from desperately trying to fit into western norms. In that reflection, I am a beautiful young Black Woman!

Today I would not be able to tell you that I don’t care at all about what people think because I do but less. FYI, I still get anxious every time before I post on IG because social media has its scary shadows of comparison and self doubt. So it is all under construction but like a building site, it takes time and investment which now I have and value. Nevertheless, I definitely can say I have gained self love and it is still a process or more so a journey for life. Through growth I learn and it adds to that self love. It’s not always the most visual result but every moment counts.

Take This From The Whole Entry

You are valid and deserving of love and respect despite your appearance, sexual orientation, religion, skin complexion and heritage. Loving yourself does not make you arrogant but more unapologetically you. So in order to ray that confidence glow, start admiring yourself from within and it will shine through. Self love needs to grow, so harvest good admirations and water yourself with care for your mental and physical being to please yourself. With time, you will bloom.

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