A Representation of the Kinky, Curly Children

When I was a little girl, I spent most of my time with my mother and her mom, my grandmother.

They both had fair skin and long, straight dark hair. A majority of my friends where fair-skinned young girls also with long, straight hair and blue eyes.

I did not look like that. I had tan skin and thick, kinky, curly hair that sure as hell didn’t fall straight down when let loose.

The women on my father’s side also had dark skin and thick, kinky hair but I hardly saw it in its natural state, at least when I was that young. It was always permed and kept straight, like everyone else around me.

I began to wonder why I didn’t look like the girls in the magazines.

Why couldn’t I go in the pool without worrying about how I was going to style my hair after I got out before it dried and I had a series of knots that were nearly impossible to get out.

One day I looked at mom and told her that I wish I had straight blonde hair and blue eyes. That I wanted to look just like her and all the girls I see in the magazines.

How sad is it that a four-year-old is already wishing that she looked different?

How sad is it that at such a young age, I already didn’t feel beautiful?
My mom was heart-broken. And she made it her mission to make sure that I knew that I was beautiful despite the fact that media companies didn’t believe so.

I remember discovering one artist in particular. A singer with beautiful tan skin and kinky dark hair like myself. A singer who was so full of passion, a performer so talented. She played the piano like it was no one’s business and embraced her culture with no shame.
I wanted to be just like her. From then on out, I wore my hair in braids all the time. I rocked out on my fake, out of tune piano and didn’t have a care in the world.

I am beautiful. My skin is beautiful. My hair is beautiful. Representation really is important.

I was lucky to have people from a young age constantly remind me that although I didn’t resemble those in mainstream media, that didn’t mean that I wasn’t beautiful or worth it. It just meant that there was a problem with those in charge of the media.

There was a time, years later though that I lost sight of that.

I was 12 years old and once again all the girls around me had fair skin, straight blonde hair and eyes of blue and green and hazel
I can still hear the racist remarks they’d make about how black hair was ugly hair. How brown eyes were ugly and muddy looking but blue eyes were mysterious and held all the secrets of the ocean.

I remember when people would touch my hair without my permission and rake their fingers through it, causing an insane amount of pain and discomfort.

How do you wash it?” they would ask. “How often do you wash it?”

“I wash it like you wash your hair, it just takes a bit longer.” I would reply “I wash it about once a week.”

Once a week? Isn’t that dirty?” Was it a genuine question? Yes. Did they treat me differently when they found that out? Yes, they did.
I was too hurt to answer. Too hurt to explain to them that my hair did not act like theirs.

I was 12 years old when I relaxed my hair. A mistake that still saddens me to this day.

My thick, beautiful healthy kinky curls were no longer. All that remained was short, thin, uneven brittle strands.

…But it was straight, and I didn’t care. I was more like them, or so I thought.

The comments didn’t stop. They got worse and I was devastated. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without wishing I could go back in time.

It was a hard few years to say the least, when it came to my
confidence.

Representation is so important. I truly believe that.

I am happy to say that I do feel that diversity is being praised now in 2016.

I am happy to see young, beautiful brown girls finally loving their hair.

I am happy to see young, beautiful brown girls loving their complexion.

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