Dear Little Mia,
When you were younger, you would look in the mirror and whisper, “God, if you love me, why didn’t you make me pretty?” You would look deeply, turning left and right and twisting your face to see yourself from different angles, and you were met with the same conclusion, “I’m not beautiful just like everyone says.” You would squint and flip your bangs from side to side. You would also take off your glasses and put them back on in hopes that you’d look better this time.
I saw you comparing yourself to the other girls in your school, especially ones with a hue as dark as yours wondering why they were “pretty for a dark-skinned girl,” but you were, instead, teased. The world was your reflection. The mirror showed you what the world wanted you to see. A filter. You looked at yourself through a filter of standards that showed you all of your “imperfections:”
- A nose wide, round and large — an offensive feature.
- A hue of skin so deep and so dark leading you to believe that you were less than.
- A face smeared with large and small pimples — puberty was insufferable.
- Your hair — tightly coiled and unmanageable, nothing ever looked good.
But what if I told you, little Mia, it would get better? What if I told you that you won’t always see yourself through that mirror? Or that the filter fades? It will take years, but you will come to know, see, and understand yourself differently. If I could do it all over again I would show 8-year-old Mia, and 12-year-old Mia….16, 22, and 28-year-old Mia:
- The richness of your dark glow and chocolate skin fills a room with light before you say a word. It’s like soil is being poured from heaven into you like cement onto the ground, you are the earth.
- The kinks in your hair are versatile and lovable. They accentuate your personality and your depth.
- I would show you how your nose has a generational imprint and connects you to your warrior ancestors.
- I would show you the spark in your walk and the shine in your smile. How radiant a being you are.
- I would show you all the best parts of you at every single stage of your life.
The mirror was your first childhood bully. It projected a definition marred in whiteness. You, beautiful girl, are everything divinely Black and gorgeous. A goddess of sorts! I don’t want to spoil the ending, baby girl – but you will see this truth for yourself.
You’ll go to Spelman, and the first two years, you’ll compare yourself to other brown girls using the same measuring stick from your childhood. By your junior year, summer 2008, you’ll do the big chop, cutting all the relaxed and damaged parts of your hair that you’d permed into obedience. You’ll hate the new look.