Azaelia Banks is skin bleaching
Kylie Jenner is a role model
Marc Jacobs pioneers "mini buns"
Kim Kardashian and Boxer Braids
I graduated high school 2 weeks after my 17th birthday. That summer, I spent an obscene amount of time in front of a computer screen. Not on mindless internet surfing, not on Facebook or Myspace, but on Google images.
I wasn't browsing for clothes, or funny lolcats. I wasn't even browsing for 2ne1 (my Kpop obsession at the time). No, instead I was browsing for women-- black women.
I graduated high school 2 weeks after my 17th birthday and realized how messed up I was. Realized how chopped and diced my idea of beauty and self worth had become that I forced myself into an unschooling curriculum. It was a pretty redundant syllabus: Wake up. Boot computer. Load Google. Inundate self with images of black women....
I did this over and over and spent countless hours in front of my computer screen, relearning, reframing, restructuring. And while this might sound ridiculous to you, I did this because I realized somewhere in the then 5 years of living in this country, I'd subconsciously learned (and even worse, believed) that dark skin and it's associated features somehow equaled unattractive.
Interestingly enough I'd never felt like this back home. Quite frankly, I had an overinflated sense of self and an ego probably too big for pre-12 year old me to carry. So even though I didn't have the longest hair, I was pretty scrawny, and my yams were massive, I still believed I was hot stuff!
Then I migrated. And I learned that for as beautiful as diversity is, it comes with a majority favored hierarchy.
This is the hierarchy that partly influenced me talking myself out of a career in entertainment. Somewhere between 12 and 18, I'd convinced myself I couldn't be an actor because I didn't look the part. I.e. I wasn't pretty enough, my hair wasn't big enough or long enough, my features weren't petite enough. I wasn't enough. And for a long time I believed this, but then I graduated from my summer after high school curriculum, kept extensively working on myself, decided that I wouldn't let the fear of being dissected on camera- film or stills- dissuade me from doing what I want, and said fcuk it. Big win for Omono
I've never felt the need to write about this before, but today I faced critique. And I almost cried. Ok I lied, I did cry! But it wasn't because my feelings were hurt. It was because I saw my 17 year old self, and she was naked and without armor, and if she had heard that, she would have been done for. But she didn't hear it, I did. And those years and years of unschooling, restructuring, uplifting and building self worth have made for an armor tough enough to rival Cersei Lannister's coronation gown.
So I dedicate this post to women like me, more specifically black women like me. The women who find themselves living in a world where they have to coronate themselves. The women who have to keep standing even when they're directly or indirectly lapidated with other people's truths. The women who are finding comfort with their halos, however big or small. The women who don't fit contemporary body standards. The women who are robbed of partaking in their contemporary inspired body standards. The women who are thumbed by the majority. There is a place for you. There is a place for us.