As a child, my mother was diligent about teaching me the importance of having confidence and high self-esteem. But, no matter how many times she told me, I never truly believed her words. Deep down I was still uncomfortable with the girl in the mirror.
I have always been of a darker complexion and I saw it as a disadvantage, especially because I was teased and bullied throughout my school years. I still remember all the nicknames including “big black”, which was a name created to not only belittle me for my skin color but to also make me feel inferior for being overweight.
The older I got, the more I started to believe the negatives that were thrown my way about my skin color. I did everything I could to cover up the body and skin I was constantly being told was ugly by the outside world. There was even a time when I bought and used fade creams behind my mother’s back because I struggled to see myself as beautiful and wanted my skin color to be lighter.
The more mature I got I realized that I was allowing these negative opinions about my skin color to greatly affect my confidence. Now that I am an adult, I have grown to appreciate my skin color. I understand the importance of self-acceptance, regardless of what others think. Occasionally, I get questionable compliments like “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl”. But if I am being given a compliment, why not just say, “You’re pretty”? Skin color doesn’t and shouldn’t determine how beautiful somehow is. Luckily, I have been blessed with a family and close friends who have always been supportive and positive towards me and my appearance.
If I could go back in time, I would tell young Tori the same things I would tell my daughter (when I have one). I would tell her how beautiful she is and to ignore the negatives. I would also explain to her the importance of self-acceptance and allowing her true inner beauty to continue to shine. I would also paint a picture for her of what her future self is, because I think if she could imagine being the girl she is today, she would understand that everything she feels and is being told about her skin color isn’t true. She would be reminded every single day that she was beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Finally, I would continue to pray for God to help her on her journey to becoming the strong beautiful woman she is today.