For the last few months, I’ve been bombarded with tons of articles, research, and personal encounters with the social issues of black women. I took all that information, and decided to use it to write a personal letter to black women. I’m hoping to encourage us as whole, and possibly change the way we perceive some of our issues.
I want to begin with why I named this article Love Thy Self. The second commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. This is the simplest, yet most misunderstood commandment of them all. To love yourself as you love your neighbor is a simile. To do something like or as you do something means that those things should be the same, equal, or at least similar. To love thy neighbor as you love thy self means that the love you have for someone else and for yourself should be the same. Not less, not more- the same.
Commandment Five: Love Thy Body
The summer before I started sixth grade, I had gotten my period. I was ten years old at the time. After I got my period, my body changed-inside and out. I had emotional problems and mood swings, then I started developing breasts that were bigger than bigger, I started was taller than my friends, my face started to get pimply-basically I was developing rapidly, and everyone noticed it.
This was so embarrassing for me because I had friends that didn’t get their period yet, and even the ones that did still didn’t seem to have the issues that I had. They didn’t get grabbed and teased by the boys as much.
As I got older, the problem with my body grew. My butt looked so flat compared to my huge knockers, and the boys teased me about that, too. I got called “flat butt” all the time. My sisters also teased me about my butt. Every year, I dreaded buying clothes for the new school year because my mom tended to buy me clothes that made me look even skinnier and flat butted.
Skinny and flat butted is not a bad thing in all cultures, but it is in mine. I can’t really identify with the girls who look through the pages of a magazine and feel ugly and fat when they see tall, skinny women. Although I’m not very tall, I am proportionate to those models. I’m reasonably slim (I’m a size 5), I have long legs, I have big boobs, and an “almost nonexistent” butt. So, I never felt fat, but I still had just as many body insecurities as any other young woman. I hated my boobs, and loved my thighs, but I had friends that loved their boobs, but hated their thighs. We both had different insecurities, but still we had just as many insecurities as the other despite our differences.
The positive thing is that the media is slowly recognizing women who aren’t stick thin. Women who like Scarlet Johansen, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Jessica Beal are just a few examples of beautiful women who aren’t as skinny as the models in the magazines.
But the negative thing is that the recognition that these women are getting still doesn’t overrule the effect that the skinny models have on young girls. They can watch multiple voluptuous women on television all day, then see one skinny woman and feel bad again. For some reason, the thin girl is the only image of beauty that girls today feel is true beauty.
Maybe this is because they aren’t just getting that message from the media. Some girls have parents that make them feel bad for being a certain size, or for having certain features. Some girls have friends that scrutinize their appearance. Let’s not underestimate the effect our friends can have on us. When I was in high school, a cousin of mine took off her shoes and walked around barefoot all day long because her friends laughed at her shoes earlier that morning.
Sometimes we date guys that judge us or look at other girls in our presence, and we start to compare ourselves to those girls. So there are many avenues that cause girls to develop these feelings about their body image. Here are a few things you should consider …
1. Models don’t always look like that in person. There are very advanced airbrushing that takes place behind the scenes. They can change the color of your eyes and hair, straighten your teeth, make your waist smaller, remove blemishes and freckles– they can even put makeup on you-all with the push of a button!
2. You are still developing. Don’t judge your body now, you aren’t through growing! I looked my worse when I was still developing. I felt my worse when I was still developing, too. But now that I am an adult and are through growing, I like what I see, and what I don’t like, I can handle because I’m now mentally mature enough to not care about all the little nonsense flaws!
3. Develop self esteem. To me, self esteem is a formula: Self Worth+ Self Confidence + Self Love= Self Esteem. You must have all three to truly have it all. I’ll elaborate about it more in Love Thy Self: The Formula For Self Esteem.
Lastly, I want you to keep a journal. Not the kind of journal where you write down a lot of juicy information about what’s going on in your life, but the kind where you release your feelings. Write down your anger, your hurt, your happiness, and write down what you like about yourself as a human being. Write something positive about yourself every day, whether it’s about the way you looked today or about a good grade you made, whatever. Always keep something positive in your mind and write it down repeatedly. Writing things down is such a great release, and it can keep you focused and keep your mind clear.
I want you to know that you are beautiful. Emphasis on the word KNOW. I don’t want it to just cross your mind every so often, I want you to KNOW at all times that you are beautiful and you are worthy. You are no less than anyone else because of your looks. You may look at other girls and want to look like them, but there is some other girl who looks at you and wishes she had your looks. It’s something we all do at some point, but don’t feel bad about yourself. You know you got it going on…
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