Ideals of Beauty: a talk on aesthetics



You are beautiful!!

When I was younger, my sister was the one with the beautiful black long hair and mine was a murky brown colour and short. For most of my life my hair was short. However I was a few shades lighter than my sister in complexion.

So she had the long hair, I had the nice skin. We were even.

I spent my whole life trying to get long flowy hair. At 16 I tried a perm in order to straighten my kinks (at home we say ‘cream yuh hair’) and it was a disaster. I cut that off and tried to grow locs. It wasn’t until I went to college I was enlightened about what it means to be black, not just in Jamaica but anywhere, and how I’ve been brainwashed to think of one side of beauty.

In 2013 I cut off my hair, all of it. It was something I did on impulse. At first I didn’t hate it, I was just surprised at myself. After a while it grew on me and I liked it so much I kept it for a year and learned to cut it myself. I felt edgy and exotic and … kind of a rebel.

Personally, my ideals of beauty used to come from European standards. My ancestors came to Jamaica as enslaved people, but unfortunately slavery is not just physical, it is mental. The slave owners passed the idea of not being good enough down to them, and it came down the line to my grandparents, my parents and to me. The media today still portrays anyone that doesn’t have: long hair; a slim but slightly curvy figure; or light skin, as ugly.

So here I am, a broke college student, skinny with dark skin and about a half inch of kinky hair on my head. Here are the reasons why at that time, I was probably the most beautiful I’ve ever been in my life, and still am today:

  1. I am beautiful because I am confident. I am not defined by long hair or the perfect body, or light skin.
  2. I am beautiful because there are both tangible and non tangible things about myself that I liked. I like my smile and I like my sense of humour.
  3. I am beautiful because by me thinking that I am beautiful, I encourage other brown girls who look like me to know they are also beautiful, and their beauty is OK in this world
  4. I am beautiful because my mind is creative and thoughtful and brilliant
  5. I am beautiful because there are SO many things I can do. I can cook, I can laugh, I can dance, I can write and so so so many other things
  6. I am beautiful because there’s nothing I can’t do (with research and practice, of course)
  7. I am beautiful because there is a unique perspective that I can offer the world.

So, forget the aesthetics, because Sally can never look like Jill. Jill can never sound like Lana. Lana can never talk like Jodi. Jodi can only be Jodi, just Jodi. And Jodi has something very special that no one else has.

Why are you beautiful?

Beauty is a thing seldom seen. It is held by all within the soul it lies, waiting to come out to the surface, but it can only be found if someone is sharing your soul with you. Beauty is suppressed by the evils of the world. Only love can bring beauty out. Once seen, beauty never hides again. Not even hatred can deny beauty of it’s true design. Beauty, although possessed by all by few and fewer yet will ever see one of the most beautiful sights – the beauty held by you. – Urban Dictionary



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