Updated: Mar 13, 2020
This is me, elementary-age Cameo. A second grade girl who loved a perfect side ponytail sprinkled with an array of pink barrettes. My world consisted of rehearsing spelling words, sleepovers with my cousins, and excitement about the next Barbie & Ken doll release. Those were all the things on that brought contentment to my little heart. You can also add with the occasional request for Chinese food or Baby Sitters Club book. But that was my world, cute curls, cousins, and Barbie & Ken dolls.
But even at that age, I knew something was awry in the world of this little brown skin girl. I knew that for some reason, my mere existence ruffled the feathers of folks that didn't look like me. Despite my innocence, I knew something was off. I knew when a grown white woman questioned my existence at an indoor amusement park. I knew when all the girls lauded over freshly permed hair. I knew when I was considered "regular" but not cute solely because of my brown skin and not light skin. I knew that all these things and more had me wondering whether there was something wrong with me or them.
These experiences from my childhood resurfaced unexpectedly when I saw a video that literally ripped my heart in two. It's a video of Atlanta-based hairstylist Shabria aka Lil Wave Daddy encouraging a little Black girl named Ariyonna to love her beauty after the girl calls herself ugly.
After listening to the deep and almost inconsolable cries of 4 year old Ariyonna, I knew instantly why her sobs of pain hit me and many of us in the deepest part of our soul. It's because black girls have been consistently called ugly explicitly and implicitly. And if we are honest, for some of us, it hurts deeply.
In this week's podcast, I share why this feeling, that many black women have experienced, is carried with us throughout our entire lives.