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Loving the Skin I’m In

By Kitina Thomas

I was born in the winter, the firstborn to my father, a soldier in the US Army and my mother,  a young homemaker. The pride of both my parents, the primary years of my life were bliss and I was secure in their love.

Isn’t that the way it should be? Love and security from my loved ones; strong enough to carry me through the waves of this life. How unfortunate is it that along the journey; events take place or something someone said chips away at that comfort zone. I don’t remember the first time someone made a remark about my skin color; I was young; too young to understand the significance of that one comment; that would later culminate too many, would play in my life. Nonetheless, I was wise enough to know that it was not a good thing.

Wait don’t yawn…Yeah I know how many times can we discuss the “color” thing, hasn’t it been beat to a pulp? I don’t know maybe it has, but this article isn’t about the masses, it is about me and my personal journey to self love.

I could never comprehend why my rich mocha skin tone seemed to be a problem for some people. Personally looking in the mirror as a child, my reflection always produced a beautiful image one that replicated my parents. However outside the solace of my family, opinions differed; over time the ridicule of my opponents seemed to crack the walls of confidence in my life.

Why should it matter; the idiotic comments that people made that didn’t truly know me and couldn’t possibly value the person that I was or would later become? Why did I care what they thought and why did their opinions penetrate me? Did I perceive myself the way they did and if I did; when did I stop loving the skin I was in?

If you ask someone if they love who they are, they would say “Yes of course, I love myself. What kind of question is that?” but the truth is, that most of us have valued the opinions of others over our own. We don’t know why but the views of others, whether it is family, friend or foe, has in some why became our perception; your object of disdain doesn’t have to be your skin color as it was in my case, it could be your hair texture or length, the shape of your legs, your height so on and so forth.

Okay, so let’s assume I know what you are thinking…You say “If I don’t like my hair, my legs or my skin color does that mean I hate myself?” No, that is not what I said; I am saying that because someone else had a problem with my dark hue, I too eventually had a problem with it. Maybe that has been your experience as well? I didn’t realize how it affected my life until I looked at the choices I made from the guys I dated to the people I hung around…at first it wasn’t obvious to me but somehow that one comment years ago began a subconscious battle of acceptance in my life.

Now that I was aware that over time I had allowed the callous remarks of others to cloud my view, I acknowledged I had to change and now began my pilgrimage to the self appreciation I needed.

The next step was more challenging, easier said then done is the old adage and proclaiming “I loved me” was more complex then believing I actually felt that way.

The Bible tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14) so now it became a choice, would I believe the sentiments of a few or the Lord God, my Creator and giver of life? It took time; it is a process but eventually, I learned to appreciate me for who I was created to be.

A few weeks ago a dear friend of mine, a café au lait sister, admitted to me that while in High School she tanned her light skin for a whole year to blend in with others at school. She went on to express how at the time, she disliked her fair shade and how she wished that she were darker growing up. We laughed at how our experiences were so similar and how we allowed negative opinions to momentarily distort impressions of ourselves.

I hope my personal journey has inspired you; unfortunately we live in a society that puts too much pressure on women and standards of beauty instead of celebrating more important attributes of a person. I pray that you know that no matter your skin shade, height, weight, hair texture or eye color that you possess your own beauty, the beauty that God intended just for you.

Now looking back at my younger self, I am not so harsh on the girl who valued the outlook of others more than her own. I presently accept that it was a passage; one among many I will take in my lifetime, to discover how to love the skin I am in.

* Originally printed for http://www.HoneyMag.com

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