Fabulous

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I used to get the feeling that I wasn’t enough. I would stare at myself for hours on end, questioning why I looked the way I did. Often I ran my fingers across the bumpy braids that covered my head and feelings of envy came over me; I was envious of my peers who I felt were blessed to have long, straight hair that fell over their shoulders and backs. As I stared at myself judgingly, analyzing my imperfections, images of Cindy’s long blond hair, deep blue eyes and rosy cheeks, would flash through my mind. Questions like ‘why am I different’ and ‘what’s wrong with me’, corrupted my thoughts. As a young girl of only four, being surrounded by people that looked nothing like me made me self-conscious and insecure.

The time I remember most is when I’d sit between my mother’s legs as she combed through my thick, knotty afro. I know my mother dreaded the days my hair needed fixing just as much as I did, if not more. “Ouch, mommy you’re hurting me”, I’d scream, each time the comb was tugged through my mass of black hair. Tears would flow uncontrollably from my eyes. “Rayanne, cut out the whining now”, she’d caution sternly. It was always terribly painful. As she parted the last section in preparation to cornrow the final braids, relief would come over both of us.

Elementary school was tough. It wasn’t even that I was bullied or left out. I played and socialized with the other children, but their questions always left me feeling out of the ordinary. They’d ask “why is your skin brown, were you burnt?” or “why do you look different than everyone else?” The strange thing about it was that these were all things I wondered myself, yet I didn’t know how to answer them. I guess that’s why I would gaze intently at myself for long periods of time desperately hoping the answers would magically appear across my forehead or something insane like that.

I went home from school one day, feeling overwhelmingly ashamed of my skin colour and disgusted with the person I thought people saw me as. It was Grade 4, I sat in my desk listening to the spelling lesson; I’ll never forget the word of the day, f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s. Numerous side conversations were going on throughout the classroom. My eyes shifted from the black board to the pencil that collided with the floor just inches from my feet. When I recall this story every element seems to be replayed in slow motion. Reaching down to the retrieve the pencil, my fingers had barely grazed it before her head whipped around, followed by her vibrant red hair. “Don’t touch it”, she bellowed seizing the attention of my curious classmates. My hand was already wrapped around the pencil as I attempted to hand it over to her. “I can’t touch that now; your look like you bathe in mud”, she said with disgust apparent in her tone. Suddenly silence spread across the classroom, no one said a word. “Kathy, apologize this instant”, warned my teacher, who must of sensed my shame. Hot tears formed in my eyes as I forcefully held them back. I didn’t bother waiting for the apology; instead I sprinted out the door.

The day my Mom put the relaxer in my hair was the first time I felt confident. I could finally run my fingers through my hair with ease and there were no longer any tears she combed my hair that reached half way down my back .The envy escaped from my heart and instead of staring at myself with disgust, I stared at myself in vain. I recognize now that I was wrong to feel that way because straight hair doesn’t mean beautiful hair. Hair comes in many shades, shapes and textures. Some people have kinky afros, some have wavy brown hair, and some have short red hair others had long blond hair. If I could go back and tell my 12 year old self something, I’d say that my hair didn’t make me beautiful, the person I am did.

I’ve grown up in predominantly white schools and neighbourhoods. The man I’ve been calling my father all 18 years of my life, is white. I have no resentment for Kathy, all I have is love. She helped shape me into the proud black girl that I have become. I love and cherish every ethnicity and I can confidently say I would never judge anyone based on the hue of their skin.

As I come to the end of my high school career I have learned that we were all made different, but equal. I believe that ignorance cannot be avoided and at times people might make comments about something that you are insecure about because as humans we are learning every day. Those questions I was asked as a child were not raised maliciously and I don’t fault anyone for them. I would love for people to understand that we are all beautiful and special regardless of our outer appearances. I pray for all people of the earth to be harmonious and all cultures and ethnicity to become united so we can live together peacefully on earth.





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