The steps that I took my on personal journey to self-acceptance
I can distinctly remember the first time that I ever felt uncomfortable about my skin tone. I was in eighth grade and a boy named Jason Ball began to tease me relentlessly about being dark-skinned. He slung heinous insults at me, such as African booty scratcher, darkie and tar baby. Ironically, Jason was even darker than me, but that didn’t matter to him; I became his victim for the entire year. From that moment on, I became aware of the fact that dark skin wasn’t a desirable shade in the mainstream media or popular culture, an obstacle I would go on to battle for several years.
Prior to my encounters with Jason Ball, I’d attended a school where I was the only black girl in my grade, so in the larger scheme of that situation, being dark-skinned didn’t really matter much. When it came to my home life, skin tone was never discussed. The two tribes that I originate from in Nigeria— Hausa and Fulani— both have Middle Eastern roots, so the people come in a wide range of skin tones. Aside from that, my family is full of individuals who married people from Egypt and Yemen, so we come in every shade possible and we never placed significance on how light or dark anyone was. So at the age of 13, Jason Ball was the first person to make me aware of the fact that I was dark-skinned, simultaneously making me aware of the fact that it was an issue.
The odd thing was, as I got older, the overtly insulting slurs decreased but I instead received insults that were disguised in the form of backhanded compliments. “You don’t look African.” “I don’t usually date dark-skinned women but I like you.” At one point in life I even received, “You’re too pretty to be so dark” (I swear). I would be lying to you all if I said that these remarks didn’t affect my self-esteem growing up. I became very conscious of the fact that I didn’t fit into mainstream beauty standards. For years it bothered me, then eventually one day, after a particularly long and unsatisfying cry (probably over a boy I was convinced didn’t like me), I decided that I wasn’t going to let anyone else define what beautiful was for me. It took a lot of self pep talks and prayers to accept that I am never going to change, so I better learn to love myself or get used to being miserable.
Below I share with you some of the active steps I took to practicing during my personal (and still ongoing) journey to self-acceptance:
Being transparent about my insecurities
Talking about these things with family and close friends has been more therapeutic than I could have ever imagined. Not only will they shower you with truthful compliments that will boost your esteem, but they will open up about their own personal battles. You’ll realize that everyone has something they struggle to accept about themselves.
Reciting positive affirmations
Our thoughts and energy are extremely malleable, so start your day out by filling your brain with words and ideas that will put you on a positive trajectory.
Everyone morning when I wake up I repeat these positive affirmations:
- I choose to see the light I am to this world
- I am grateful for who I am
- I am so much more stronger and capable than I imagine
- My opinion of myself is most important
Actively surrounding myself with positive energy and people.
I make an effort to steer clear of anyone who puts me or other people down. I try to uplift other people any chance that I get and want those around me to share that same mentality.
As you practice these steps, remember, self-love and self-acceptance are daily and life long practices. I encourage you to never stop and spend each day living your best life, as your best self.
Thank you for letting me be transparent,
P.s. A few months ago Jason Ball sent me a message on Instagram, asking if he could have my number because he had a major crush on me in middle school. -_-