“You need to eat more,” “You must love being skinny,” “You’re a stick”
These were the responses I heard throughout my childhood growing up being under 100 pounds. I was small, I had no foreseeable curves at the time. Though I didn’t see a problem with my body, this slowly found itself to be true as I got deeper into my school years and consumed more of the media.
As a young Black woman, it can be difficult trying to navigate portraying your self confidence as everyone is tugging at you to act, speak, and dress a certain way. Especially as a teenager, I was just as impressionable as the next person. Society convinced me that my body type was not desirable (at least not as much as what it was in the 90’s and early 2000’s). Society said if I wanted to be with someone, or have others find me attractive, I had to gain some pounds.
I did EVERYTHING I thought I could to try to gain weight and get my “dream” body. From the protein shakes, to weight training, I was going nonstop. It even got as far as me taking pills to boost my appetite. While all of these methods seemingly were working, mentally I was drained from the constant struggle of stepping on the scale day in and day out in hopes of reaching the number in my head. I was led to believe that only Black women with fuller figures were desirable. If I didn’t have a “coke-bottle” silhouette I wasn’t getting the time of day.
Eventually, I had to take a real self evaluation and try to understand why I truly wanted to look like this. Why was I so hell-bent on looking like everyone else? Even though I was hearing it from family and friends that I was beautiful just the way I am.
Here’s how I was able to grow in my self-confidence and love the skin that I’m in.
Shutting out the Noise
Even though I followed Instagram models like India Love and Bernice Burgos, the comparison I found myself doing every time I opened my phone was outrageous. Once I began being intentional about what types of content I was consuming, it made a big difference in how I navigated social media and how I viewed myself. I learned that it wasn’t about everyone else’s opinion, it only mattered about what I thought about myself. This was the start to my self-love journey.
The Harsh Conversation with Myself
When going through life, sometimes it takes having those real conversations with yourself. For me, it was looking closely at why I didn’t trust my own judgment and wanted to please everyone else except myself. I realized the error as soon as I had the epiphany and immediately began the internal work. This included having an ongoing conversation with myself about how I wanted to change moving forward and long-term forgiving myself for the emotional damage I put myself through unknowingly.
Confidence Takes Consistency
While my body type has changed slightly from where I was in high school, I’m still not that far off from where I was. I’ve learned that staying encouraged and having reminders of how beautiful I am on a regular basis makes a difference. No, you’re not going to always feel confident. But at least you can walk away knowing that you took the time to uplift yourself towards the confidence you seek.
Sherdell Baker is a senior journalism major student at Hampton University. She seeks to bring the quintessential views of contemporary college culture to the masses. Check out more from her here.