Gloria – A testimony on self-love and black youth

“Growing up in a predominantly White and overtly racist neighborhood, I developed important insecurities towards my physical appearance at a very young age. As early as 7 years old, I began to internalize the idea that Blackness was conflated with ugliness, and that in order to become “more beautiful”, I would have to do many surgeries including a buttock, nose and lips reduction and an eye-color change as “dark poop brown eyes” were “ugly looking.”

NAME: Gloria

AGE: 20

___

“Glori, ton corps c’est ton canevas, tu peux faire ce que tu veux avec.”

This sentence is one of the many my little momzi, the mighty Yvonnette, told me in my childhood and has reiterated many times until today.  Being the catchphrase which fueled me to become the person I am today (and most probably the person I’ll be tomorrow), I decided to dedicate this testimony to my little momzi and to all the loving, caring and resilient Black individuals out there without whom Black youth would forget that they are beautiful and worthy of every single thing this world has to offer.

My mother is the one who enabled me to develop a very positive relationship with my body, and more precisely with what is often referred to as “Black features” – i.e. my skin color, wide nostrils, plump lips, bubble butt and kinky hair. She is also the one who, consciously or not, introduced me to the concept of fluidity in relation to the way one’s body is perceived, seen and presented.

Growing up in a predominantly White and overtly racist neighborhood, I developed important insecurities towards my physical appearance at a very young age. As early as 7 years old, I began to internalize the idea that Blackness was conflated with ugliness, and that in order to become “more beautiful”, I would have to do many surgeries including a buttock, nose and lips reduction and an eye-color change as “dark poop brown eyes” were “ugly looking”.

I was 7 years old.

I would’ve had the time to consolidate this internalized conflation of Blackness with ugliness if it wasn’t for my mother’s tremendous support and overflowing love and wisdom. Being very quick-minded, my mother quickly caught on the toxic ideas I was developing pertaining to my Black body. In response to them, she introduced me to a bunch of amazing Black individuals such as Emeline Michel, Manno Charlemagne, Serena Williams, Danny Laferrière, Maya Angelou, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, Harriet Tubman, Stevie Wonder, Hector Hyppolite, Marie-Jeanne Lamartinière, Pascouli and the list goes on.

I remember being in awe in front of all these Black individuals since they were embodiments of things I had been convinced Black people could and would never be: they were intelligent, they were poised, they were overflowing with talent, they were resilient, and most importantly for my 7 years old self, they were all mesmerizingly beautiful.

By showing me all these individuals who, just like me, had a dark complexion, wide nostrils, kinky hair and full lips, my little momzi initiated my ongoing route towards self-love and self-acceptance. If these individuals were worthy of my love and admiration, so was I.

 

“Glori, qui est la personne que tu aimes le plus?”

“C’est toi maman!”

“Non non non ma pupuce, la personne que tu dois le plus aimer au monde c’est toi!”