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BROWN BEAUTIES



Grandma doesn’t let me wear makeup; not even lipstick.


I experimented with makeup at a young age. Grandma was not having it then, and she’s not having it now. All I wanted to do was wear eyeliner, eyeshadow, and lipstick every now and then, but grandma was like nahhhh. Previously, I’ve discussed how I’ve had a difficult journey accepting myself for how God created me (see SPOTT). In addition to me not looking like any of the family I was around, I was rarely told I was pretty. This made me think I wasn’t pretty. As I grew older, I realized my family, for some reason, treated vanity like it was voodoo.


I would see a picture of myself and instantly say “eww, I don’t like that”. A family member would quickly respond “the camera took what it saw”. Ouch. I thought to myself, since I didn’t like the picture, AND the camera took what it saw, did that mean I wasn’t’ pretty? This made me not like taking pictures. I don’t think I ever discussed this with anyone, though; there never seemed to be a right time to have a discussion leading with “am I pretty?”.


Grandma told me I needed to love myself how I was created. It didn’t matter that I had acne on my cheeks and forehead, I needed to show it until it cleared up. I’ve worn makeup a few times and taken pictures a few times over the years. Looking back at some of my pictures, I am soooo embarrassed. Lol. The last time I’ve worn makeup was maybe 2018. I suck at doing makeup; like I really, really suck, like really suck. My lipstick be smeared, the foundation color be off, and please don’t let me get started on correctly lining my eyebrows. Lol.


When I would hear phrases like “representation matters” or “speak positively to your loved ones” I would brush it off. I used to think the only motivation I needed was internal motivation. I was wrong.


The first time I met my college roommate’s mother, she said “hey pretty girl”. I was shocked. I was perplexed. I was suspicious. Like, why did this lady call me pretty girl when she knows my name? Can she sense my insecurities? Does she know I don’t feel like a pretty girl? Every time I’d see this lady, she’d greet me with “hey pretty girl”. It made me feel so special. It made me feel like I was really a pretty girl. She saw me with makeup on one time, and she said to me “you’re so pretty, I can see you being a model”. I laughed. I thought to myself, “she’s saying sweet things to me like she does to her own daughter, that’s all that is”. This sweet lady taught me that hearing positive words really can affect how we feel.


After my freshmen year of college, I began taking my health and natural beauty more seriously. I was overweight, so I began exercising regularly. My face was breaking out, so I developed a skin routine to clear my face up. My diet was terrible, so I began what I call a “modified eating plan”. Over time, I finally began to feel like I was pretty.


Grandma keeps me on my toes. When I visit her, she always gives her *unsolicited* opinion about how I look. When I was overweight, she said “you’re thick in those jeans”. When I lost too much weight, she didn’t say anything, but when I gained some pounds back, she said “I’m glad you have some meat on your bones, you were looking sick before”. Lol. If my face breaks out, she’s quick to say something like “didn’t you use proactive on your face when you were a teenager? What are you using now?”.


I used to beat myself up for not feeling pretty and not being good at doing makeup. And while we’re on the subject of vanity, I have to add that I’ve never been good at maintaining sew-ins, either. I had to reframe my thinking. I told myself the reason I’m not good at makeup is because I’m not supposed to wear makeup. The reason my sew-ins be looking busted is because I need to embrace my natural hair. I told myself God created me exactly how he wanted me to look, so there was nothing wrong with how I was created. I told myself Grandma only gives her opinion on my looks because she wants me to focus on my natural beauty.


Reframing my thinking was hard, but it worked. I’m so grateful I majored in social work in college. I’m so grateful Yah gave me the idea to blog about the personal stories behind the nature stories in my book. If it wasn’t for my clinical social work background, my yearning to discover my purpose in life, and my spirituality, I doubt I’d ever psychoanalyze my life to try to understand why I’m wired so weirdly. I’m glad I was raised to embrace my natural beauty. I’m blessed to have a fussy, opinionated grandma who keeps me on my toes.


So, when I saw these brown beauties taking in their vitamin-D and shining so gracefully, I was reminded of how grandma always reminds me to embrace my natural beauty. Thanks, granny.


Life Lesson:

· Bare is beautiful.


How I Apply it to My Life:

· I embrace my natural beauty.


Song: Rapsody – Reyna’s Interlude (Ft. Reyna Biddy)

Rapsody’s album, Eve, is phenomenally beautiful. Plus, she’s from the 252 like me so she’s dope by default.


SLIDESHOW: Me with and without makeup over the years. Grandma's Grandwomen, as she calls us, embracing our natural beauty.

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