She Speaks We Hear

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The words no girl wants to hear

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By Robina Saeed

@ROBtotheINA

“You are not beautiful enough for me”

I am not going to say who exactly these words were uttered by, when, or even why. But what I will tell you is that they were not uttered by a lover, admirer or even good friend. We were neither to each other. So it might seem strange why they were said. To be honest it’s still strange to me even till this day. I was not interested in him and until he spoke those words I didn’t for a second imagine that the thought of us being together ever crossed his mind. My very first after thought was “huh, well you’re no Leonardo Di Capiro yourself mate”. Let’s stop. This right here, his ruthless verbal expression for his distaste in my appearance, and my mental distaste of his is in my opinion, the number one problem facing young men and women when finding a partner. This idea of beauty being the first benchmark one has to meet before they stand a chance. And only once someone has rated at least a 7/10 in our books, will we attempt to open the book and take a look at the first page.

These are the words that also confirmed what I already knew. I was not ready for any kind of relationship. They confirmed this because they stung. The words stung.

Whenever I’m given the tedious task of describing myself using ‘X’ amount of words, confident more often than not always makes the list. But in that moment confidence didn’t matter. What he said hurt. Not only in that second but afterwards too. In the days following I found myself retreating more and more into the self-conscious teenager I thought I’d forgotten how to be a long time ago. Beneath the peaks of arrogance, scoffing and denial of what he said I was losing a war. I was becoming critical of something I did not choose, couldn’t fundamentally change and something that even the most stunning of people will one day loose- their looks.

Yet I am not for a second denying that levels of attraction in any partner we have are important. And even my religion of Islam does not disregard that. But it emphases above physical attraction a type of attraction that rather than withering over the years will blossom and flower year after year. An attraction that we can only determine exists between us after getting to know someone. After closing the eyes and allowing the third inner eye to see someone. The problem was not in his opinion in me. It’s OK not to find someone attractive. But the problem lay in the fact that he verbalised it. The second you verbalise a thought like that it has the potential to harm. Funnily enough not long after very firmly stating his random disinterest in me, the same boy ended up asking me to marry him. Apologising for his stupidity claiming he’d now seen how beautiful I was on the inside. I was now precious and rare, one of a kind. My intelligence, my humour, my love for others, even my voice attracted him and now my looks were becoming less important….. Safe to say I declined his offer.

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A year and a half on from when those words escaped from his mouth, and the soundwaves reached my ears and into my body those words left a hole, in that hole now grows a flower. A flower that survives only when I water it. The flower although small, has deep roots which grow deeper every day. They keep me together and whole. The wholeness isn’t dependant on value, praise or compliments from anyone but myself. A self-respecting women isn’t in need of that.

“You are not beautiful enough for me”

I said those are the words no girl wants to hear. But now as a women hearing them I shrug. Oh well. I’m beautiful enough for me.

 

 

Images courtesy of  Lewis and Kev- Shine

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.


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The Darker the Berry the Sweeter the Juice

by Hafsa Guled

@QUESADILLABABY

Image Courtesy of Hafsa Guled

Image Courtesy of Hafsa Guled

The first time I hated my skin color was in the ninth grade and it was just after biology class. We were in the brightly lit hallway, goofing off when we saw two of the upperclassmen leaving the bathroom while adjusting their make-up. The louder one, Mariam, whom I both admired and hated at the same time walked up to me, brandishing her lighter skin on her neck. Since she came back from summer break, her dark skin had mysteriously gotten five shades lighter.

Loudly, she gushed about how pretty her light skin was to anyone who would listen. It was interesting because I grew up with Mariam and just last year her skin was darker than mine. But thanks to the new girl, Z, who pressured the entire senior class to bleach themselves, things took a different turn. The same girls who didn’t think twice of their skin tone were now spending hours in front of the bathroom mirror glancing at their reflections, unsatisfied with what they saw.

Z, who herself had bleached her skin senseless, began comparing skin tones before gym class. The lighter you were, the nicer she treated you, but because I had a darker complexion, she did not like me much. “White hijabs would not look nice on you since you are too dark”, a direct quotation said by her that still sticks with me today.

She really put all her energy towards making me feel inferior because of my skin color.

I clearly remember standing in front of my locker pretending to reach for notebooks I did not need just to avoid Z. Her presence behind my back when she walked past every morning sent me on complete edge. My friends did not understand why I was so quiet and uneasy whenever I saw her. To me, she conjured up so many negative emotions and made me feel so small that it was hard to articulate. The amount of time I spent beside my locker attempting to look busy so as not to have to talk her was countless. Just the sound of her slithery snake like hiss of a voice was enough to make me shiver. She really put all her energy towards making me feel inferior because of my skin color. This was my firsthand experience with colorism in my life.

Soon, before my bus picked up in the morning for school I would stand in front of the mirror adjusting my hijab left and right trying to cover my face. I tossed all the white scares bought for me in the back of my closet. I didn’t feel like I was pretty or worth looking at. Another thing that confirmed that was none of the boys I liked liked me back. It was a never ending cycle. The effects of colorism were deeply rooted in me for many years to come but it first started in my own home.

For me, that was when I first started associating being dark with something gross and nasty.

My aunt and my mother both had lighting bleach creamers in their nightstands and would apply them religiously every night. My mom would say she was using it to ‘correct her uneven dark spots’ but I knew the truth. My aunt would say she needed to ‘return to her original skin tone’. For me, that was when I first started associating being dark with something gross and nasty.

Growing up as a kid I would overhear adults at the dinner table talking about certain divorces and family gossip. Occasionally I would hear things like, “[H]e can’t marry her skin is too dark, all the kids will be ugly” or “[M]y God you’ve gotten darker here’s a recipe for an all-natural lightening cream’. As an eleven year old, I never understood that way of thinking since my dad was dark as coal and my little sister was as well. But that was just the tip of iceberg unfortunately.

My own mother would tease my younger sister for her darker complexion by calling her “Sudani” or “darkie”. (Sudani meaning someone of Sudanese descent and darkie a shortened term for a darker skinned person). I remember one day when I walked in on my little sister crying, heeled over the toilet in the bathroom. With tears streaming down her face, she begged God that she just wanted to be light. Those were just the first few instances I had brushed with colorism but my journey with self- hatred did not start until late high school.

Self- loathing of my dark skin was all I knew for years. I spent countless hours of my life wishing I was as light as Sofia Vergara or Raven Symone. All around me light skinned women seemed to be making it far in life and had many doors opening for them. It got so bad that during my senior year of high school, I stopped showing my face to people. I desperately began covering my face with hoodies and beanies, pretty much anything to hide my self.

My self- esteem was at an all-time low all because I despised what my skin look like. Every night I would scrub my body until my fingertips would turn raw just at a shot of being one shade lighter. For me, being lighter represented things like youth, beauty, and likeability. All the light girls I knew were liked by everyone. I just wanted a piece of that. But over the years, my way of thinking slowly began to change for the better.

Accepting my skin tone has been a long, painful journey for me. Some days I wake up and feel a twinge of the hurt and self- hatred I carried for so long bubble up. But I am happy to say I no longer hesitate in wearing lighter colored hijabs. I mean of course it hasn’t been easy nor did it happen over-night. It was long nights of crying myself to self and sitting on the cold toilet seat not wanting to get up because it would mean catching my reflection in the mirror. Then slowly day by day not allowing my self to beat myself up over things I had no control over.

My one act of rebellion has been to wear bright, statement lip colors no matter how my skin looks. I have actually reached the point of self-acceptance where when I look into the mirror, I feel proud of my glistening melanin. I no longer see an ugly, blackened shell of a person but more of a darkskinned bombshell girl with an A+ personality.

I am able to say I love my blackness.

It hasn’t always been this way but thanks to several years spent on social media, internet friends, black pride, black self-love hashtags, and real life support groups, I am able to say I love my blackness. Spefically hashtags like #FlexinMyComplexion and #BlackOutDay taught my blackness is what makes me beautiful. Now, I love how my skin looks when the sun hits it, like shimmering bronze. I love how my eyelids twinkle and gleam when I blink. I love how my skin doesn’t age. I love how any lipstick color immediately pops because of my beautiful melanin. I love how white people gush and obsess about how clear my skin is considering their the ones that the media deems as most beautiful. I love how soft and sun-kissed my skin looks at all times, even in the winter. And best of all, I love every part of my blackness. Even the darker parts of it.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.