I recently read an article by Leila Noelliste, the publisher of Black Girls With Long Hair. She talked about her struggle with self esteem. As I read the comments, it was interesting to see how many women identified with her journey. Me included. No matter how much you’ve achieved, there are times when someone will hit you with words, that can have you doubting yourself.
We’re taught to look for beauty on the outside and not use the matter, our brains, between our ears for intellectual purposes. The self talk can be more traumatizing than the words from others lips. We don’t skip a nail or hair appointment, we get or give ourselves facials weekly, but the study group has to wait until next week.
What Does Culture and Family Structure Have to Do With Your Confidence Level?
If you come from a certain culture or family structure, you might have been taught that you’re to be seen but not heard. What’s the message in that statement? Admire my looks but not my brains. What you have to say is not important. You’re not worth listening to. So much can be read into such words. No wonder young black women can be called B – – ch, among other things and think it’s normal.
I was thrilled to see the movie Hidden Figures when it was released. I saw confident women of color who knew their worth and were “eventually” recognized for their minds. I also saw wide eyed young black girls feeling comfortable in being a geek. Do you know any women like this? I’m sure we know of or have someone in our families that were brilliant women and never got a chance to be treated with respect for their minds. They might not have been the genius of Hidden Figures, but they were smart, enterprising and confident women. They ran businesses and families in the mist of some of our most troubled times.
Seeing Confidence and High Self Esteem from An Early Age
I’m one of the lucky black women who was raised by 2 great grandmothers, 2 grandmothers and my mother. Yes, my grandfathers were right there as well, however, it’s the women we’re talking about today.
My dads grandmother, one of my greats, owned 200 acres of land in Madison Co Alabama until her death in 1973. Rich farm land that fed families and provided income. She was 98 years old. My moms grandmother, my other great, was enterprising. She would sell homemade ice cream and hot dogs, when the Negro League traveled through North Georgia where she lived. She was also the one that would shoot first and ask questions later. They carried themselves in such a way that showed pride and confidence.
As an adult I’ve met some pretty awesome women, who were very confident also. I had an opportunity to meet the woman who was trained and charged with raising a nation of women. If any of you have girls, you know how hard it is to get one girl to listen to you, imagine an entire nation of women that you now responsible for teaching.
Then there’s my husbands 97 year old Aunt. She was an Efficiency Expert for the Federal Government. No one knows quite what she did. Why? Because to this day, she never discusses the details of her job. But talk about poised and confident, that she is.
One of our friend’s aunts, is a just like the mathematician Katherine Johnson, in Hidden Figures. She’s 85, a math wiz and got her Doctorate Degree in Mathematics at age 20 from New York University (NYU). She was asked to work for the government and turned down the job. Go figure!
Be the Mentor
Why am I on this side of the page this week? Because, we’re loosing a lot of our young ladies to misinformation that stems from television, movies and computer screens, not to mention their own homes. If no one tells or encourages them to be something other than what they see in their neighborhoods, on videos or on screens as low life individuals, they’ll never know there’s something else waiting for them.
Count yourself as a fortunate one if you’ve had mentors in your life, that showed you something different and better existed. If you see a spark in a young lady that can be nurtured, do so, become her Mentor. Give her hope and let her know that there are choices and decisions made that will affect her life, and to choose wisely.
Let her know that it’s alright Not to follow what she knows is wrong. Teach her about intuition and listening to her own heart. Teach her to trust what she hears from within and that it’s okay to be the unique and different individual that she came here to be. You might be talking to yourself, the little girl in you, and that’s okay.
That’s it for this week. As always …
Dedicated To Your Beauty