You’re Pretty For Dark Skin Girl | Beginner's Guide To The Journey Of Self-Love

If you're struggling to find the beauty within yourself, this is a Beginner's Guide to the Journey of Self-Love
Image from @BlackGirlAffirmed

If you’re a Black girl or woman (or really any woman of color) with a skin tone darker than a paper bag, you’ve probably heard this phrase: “Oh wow, you’re so pretty…for a dark skin girl”. As a child or young teen, you may have even taken this phrase as a compliment.

In a society that’s dominated by European beauty standards, where the closer you are to whiteness means the more beautiful you are, it’s understandable why this phrase could be taken as a positive statement—according to those standards. But, it is not. You are not beautiful despite being darker – you are beautiful, period.

Colorism runs deep.

Internalized hatred for your skin tone may have been embedded into your psyche at a very young age and now that you’re growing up or have grown up—you’re battling with the idea of if you’re truly beautiful.

I’ll reiterate the fact that you are.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, I know. Especially when the media is pushing a different agenda: skin-bleach creams, TV shows, and movies where only women of lighter complexions find love and a true purpose at the end while their dark counterparts are used as comedic relief or the loud and “ghetto” friend with no true value or development as characters.

Years of being told by family members not to stay out in the sun too long because you’re dark enough as is or being referred to as “cockroach” or “African booty-scratcher” on the playground at school. All of these events build up in your subconscious mind year after year begin to believe that “you’re pretty for a dark skin girl” because up until someone expressed that you probably didn’t even feel pretty or beautiful at all. I struggled with this battle as well.

So, how does one go about reversing this brainwashing? That’s what we’re here to talk about. Now, this guide is by no means the one and only answer to “solving” the struggle of self-love. The guide is exactly that, a few tips, in no particular order, which can lead you in a good starting direction to begin your journey.

If you think you aren't beautiful, here are the steps to begin your journey of self-love.

1. Incorporate Affirmations into Your Daily Routine

Having a few affirmations written down and placed in various places where you will see them throughout the day is a good place to begin your journey. You can place these notes on your mirrors, your walls, your refrigerator, your work desk, your dashboard in your car. You can even set reminders on your phone to receive affirmations.

That’s all up to you on how you choose to receive your affirmations—just make sure that constantly seeing them so they become a natural part of your life or and day. And once your affirmations become a part of your life or day, it will be easier to accept those messages and their meanings. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some affirmations to get you started:

I will be kind to myself today.

I am radiant and beautiful.

I will speak positive words and think positive thoughts no matter what happens today.

I love the skin I am in.

Today, I choose to love myself and nobody will change that.

Incorporating affirmations into your routine can help with reinforcing positive thoughts and feelings about yourself and eventually overcome all the negative feelings and thoughts that may currently hover over you.

It’s important to remember that it’s alright if you find yourself falling back into old patterns of negativity as long as you acknowledge what you’re doing and take active steps to remain in a positive mindset. It’s difficult to break out of old habits and new ones aren’t formed overnight. So, be patient with yourself.

2. Put Into Writing What You Love About Yourself

Grab a notebook, a pen and get to writing. Write down what you love about yourself, no matter how small of an aspect it is—just write it down! Be as honest and as thorough as you can with yourself. It’s difficult to really see or feel your beauty when you’re standing in the mirror and reflecting on all the flaws that other people have pointed out to you about yourself. So this list is solely dedicated to reflecting on the positive.

You may be surprised by how many little details you find out about yourself. This acknowledgment of everything that you love within and about yourself can be a real confidence-booster. You can also create journal entries if you like. In these entries, you can talk about how you’re feeling about yourself on that particular day—whether good, bad, or neutral. And if you’re feeling bad, maybe write down what you can do to change that the next time.

As you continue on your journey of self-love, be sure to update this list every now and again. This way when you’re looking back, you’ll have written evidence on how far you’ve come. Or, if you’re having a bad day—which is completely okay—you can open your notebook and remember all the lovely and beautiful aspects about yourself.

3. Create a Set of Achievable Goals to Kickstart Your Journey

Start off small with your goal-setting and work your way up. So, maybe a starting goal would be to recite at least two affirmations a day for the next week. Once you achieve that goal, you can level up a little, and maybe the next would be to: put at least one affirmation into action one day this week. So on and so forth, right?

Beginning with small goals is helpful because they’re usually easier to achieve and can help build your confidence in your ability to actually achieve your goals. As you continue to accomplish your smaller goals, create bigger ones that are tailored to you and your journey.

Be mindful of the time limits you give yourself to accomplish a goal and also be understanding to yourself if you accomplish the goal outside of the limit. The point of your journey is to break out of the box society may have forced you into and free yourself, not to put yourself back into a new box.

Be sure to reward yourself for accomplishing a goal. No matter how small. Rewards can range from food to self-care days, to a do-nothing day. However you choose to reward yourself is up to you, as long as you enjoy the reward.

4. Find a Community that Shares Your Journey and Values

It’s important to find or create a community that shares a similar, or the same, journey as you. When you have a support system, it can make bad days good and good days better. A community can also be extremely helpful to opening your eyes to other people’s journeys and seeing that a lot of people may be struggling with the exact same battles as yourself. Learning how they’ve overcome, or are working towards overcoming, these battles can help you find your own way.

Your community should be a two-way street, so people can also learn from you. In today’s world, social media has opened us all up to each other, and with so many darker complexioned women foraging on their journeys of self-love online, you have options as to where you want to create your community.

Be sure that whatever community you decide to join, or create, that you feel comfortable and safe. You should be able to express yourself honestly and openly. The community should be a sacred place of sorts for you and your fellow members.

If it is not, remove yourself and keep searching. You may have your community quickly and easily or it may take a few tries. It’s not a sprint. As long as you find a place where you feel you truly belong—that’s all that matters.

5. Self-Care is Crucial, so Plan Days Dedicated to Pampering Yourself

You need time to love yourself. What I mean by that is, you need to set aside a day where you will only be good and nice and loving to yourself. Whether that’s going to get a massage or a facial or a mani-pedi. Or just taking yourself out for a nice brunch or dinner, visit a museum or take a walk in a park. Or staying home all day and curling up on the couch with your favorite blanket and having a movie marathon. Or even scheduling time to hang out with a close friend or family.

However, you choose to love on yourself on that day. Just make sure that you have a day where and when you can. Make it a habit to incorporate self-care days and use that time to further teach yourself that you are deserving and beautiful and so much more.

Use these days to reflect on yourself and your journey. Where are you succeeding? Where can you improve? What’s working for you? What isn’t working? Make adjustments and move forward. These days are rewards for yourself for accomplishing goals, for getting out of bed, for cooking dinner more times than you ordered out this week, for breaking down twice instead of three times this month. For whatever positives you have.

6. To Strengthen Your Journey, Find Inspiration in Others

When you're just beginning your journey of self-love, it may be nearly impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, finding someone (or some people) who is further along in their journey may prove helpful. If they're documenting their journey, you will see where they started and how they got to the place they are currently.

Finding inspiration in others can boost motivation and morale within yourself. You will see that it is possible to reach a place where you wholeheartedly love yourself. You will also see where others have stumbled and how they bounced back, so if you encounter the same or similar obstacles you have an idea of how to overcome them. 

In the age of social media, you can find plenty of inspiration over several types of media platforms. Or introduce yourself to different authors who create literature based on loving yourself and how to love yourself.

7. Identify Your Boundaries and Set Them Firmly In Place

There will be people who will try to invalidate your experiences and your journey. Creating boundaries and enforcing them will help you face, or avoid, these types of people and situations. It's important to be firm with your boundaries and not let anybody cross them.

These boundaries protect you, your feelings, your mental health--your overall being. And they create a space where you cannot be manipulated or controlled by other people. If you feel as though a person or a situation is invading your set boundaries, remove yourself. You have that right. If someone cannot respect your boundaries, they are no longer allowed to be around you. Protect your peace.

8. Think About What Succeeding In Your Self-Love Journey Means

Your self-love journey will be an ongoing process, meaning it's pretty much never-ending, because there will always be something new to learn to love about yourself. Take some time to think about what success during this journey will look like and mean to you.

Will it be gaining confidence in your appearance? Building your self-esteem? Finding joy and beauty in your skin tone? Overcoming childhood traumas?

Define what success is to you and what you truly want to gain and learn during your journey. This ties in with goal-setting as you can make achieving some of these successes a long-term goal. Everybody's successes will be different and how you define your success is not any less important than how another defines theirs. Although, you can take the successes of those who have inspired you and apply them to yourself. 

9. Dig Into Your Past and Start the Healing Process

Your struggle with loving yourself began somewhere, so locating the origins of your hurt and insecurity is important. Leaving past traumas unchecked can result in history repeating itself and you never being able to move forward in your journey successfully. 

You can find a professional in the mental health field to sit down and talk with. You can read literature, written by professionals, on beginning steps to take to begin healing. Since this process will be long, uncomfortable, and incredibly stressful it's important that you speak to, or read or listen to the information given by, qualified individuals. 

The healing process will not happen overnight. And just like your self-love journey, you may hit walls from time to time. Healing from past traumas is not an easy feat and is an ongoing process. But, as long as you're acknowledging where you're struggles lie and correcting them as they come, it's okay.  

It’s really important to remember to be kind to yourself while on this journey. While that may sound obvious, it’s easy to fall into a habit of tearing yourself down if you find yourself having a bad day for any reason. It’s okay to have bad days, it’s expected.

As human beings, we’re not perfect and we make mistakes. How you learn and grow from those mistakes and those bad days are what matter. This journey will not happen overnight and it’s not a journey that truly gets completed. Journeys of self-love are ongoing because you will always have new reasons to love yourself.

The road ahead of you may look daunting, and to be honest: it is. Rewiring your brain to reject internalized hatred is a difficult task, especially if this hatred has been building up for years. But, the pay-off is amazing. When you truly fall in love with yourself, you become unstoppable.

A young writer on the journey to finding her voice and her purpose.

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