Brown Sugar Baby : Fostering Confidence and Positive Self Esteem In Our Daughters

I was so excited to know we were expecting a baby girl. We waited decades on my maternal side of the family to welcome a little girl to spoil in pink, lace, and frills. I’ve been blessed to have three daughters, and I cherish all three from the bottom of my heart. I wanted my daughters to know despite what society deemed was the ideal characteristics of beauty that they were beautiful in every way to me. My eldest daughter favored her father as an infant, but she made a big change as a toddler in being my little twin. Hey, my twins had their own look alike, so Paige and I have one another! She has the same short kinky hair, rich brown skin, almond eyes, and curvy aesthetic that I had as a child. I denied the resemblance until one day I saw the identical double dimple smile.

   My daughter and I attending a “Mother & Daughter Tea Party”  event  

Paige never had any known self esteem issues until she was older, and she participated in a half day early Pre-K program.  The program was said to be diverse, but my daughter was one of only 4 African American girls in the close knit school. She adored the program . Her teacher seemed to be very kind, and I saw how lovingly devoted she was toward Paige. I would watch closely in the carpool line as she played with her fellow peers the interactions of she and her playmates . I will never know if anything was actually said or done during her time there. I did know that a few months later my daughter started to become more self conscious of her appearance especially her hair. My daughter and  I both share a flare for girly things,  sparkling jewelry, and changing hair styles. I kept her between wearing her little afro, braids, and mini ponytails. I noticed that during this time she begin wanting to wear more extensions for length, and she fell in love with a kiddie afro clip on ponytail. It went from her desire to wear them for fun to feeling naked without them as a necessity. I spoke with the teacher in asking her did she notice any changes as well, she claimed that she did not. I saw my daughter getting worse in questioning her beauty. It did not help that she and her brother had a mishap playing G.I. Joe and Barbie where her brother took some scissors and accidentally cut a few of her braids low. We had no other choice other than cutting her hair in a low look like the gorgeous school girls of Ghana. I cut my hair very low too show her we were in this thing together. I made her pretty bands to wear. She was complimented on her pretty round face and features. Paige still wasn’t haven’t it. She begged as soon as it got long enough for me to braid to put her braids back in so that she could wear a bun like requested for her ballet recital. I said to myself ” Houston, We have problems!” I didn’t want my baby girl to grow up feeling not beautiful like I did  having to search for that beauty near adulthood.  I set on a mission for her to find that love for herself inside as well as out.

 She was still adorable to me following the buzz cut incident.

I made sure to read her tons of books on self love, and I showed her pictures girls who are doing awesome things that look just like her. I also am more aware of the environments that I place her in to be sure that it’s not promoting a false sense of “diversity” so that she is aware in the truest form of acceptance. I wear my hair in various styles, but I make sure that she sees me in and out in public representing my natural texture. I occasionally cut my hair low so that we can wear our twa (tweenie weenie afro) together.  Yes, I am open to protective styles, but I told her that she has to be open to give her tender scalp a rest by wearing her own hair without extensions on some days. We look at pictures of girls all around the world who not only look like her, but they have their own unique beauty of their features and cultures that they embrace. I ask her in using her words often to describe “What makes her beautiful, and what makes her feel beautiful? ” She doesn’t say hair she tells me what makes her beautiful by saying “It’s my smile, soft skin, and my heart.”  We share at our family meetings character building exercises in assuring all of our children that having good character is more important than what’s on the outside.  She has confidence to participant in various activities through tapping into her creative genius now. We especially place her in activities that are culturally focused for all communities . We shy away from activities with stipulations on excluding others on certain “looks”  or aesthetic for participation.  I see her growing in fully loving the skin she’s in, yet she is welcoming in acceptance to all others in their beauty too.

                              Loving the skin she’s in !

As parents we can’t change what society or the media deems as beautiful. We can only share with our children regardless of gender the meaning of what true beauty is from the inside out. I love natural hair blogs, and I follow many of them via social media. I still see a bias within the natural hair community when it comes down to showing beautiful brown babies. Most natural hair blogs only show kids and teens with thick long hair, the soft curls, light colored eyes, and honey golden skin. I feel like on one hand it’s good that they show natural hair,but if you’re only promoting what society says is “good hair”  it’s a big contradiction that distorts the movement. I show my daughters pictures of girls from all over the world in their beauty. We look at pictures with girls who have low cuts, round bellies, freckles, thick woolly hair, and those who wear glasses. We see beauty in our friends who have physical disabilities, skin pigmentation issues like vitiligo or albinism, and all the other things that makes them beautiful to us yet society says is weird. I don’t want my daughters to just see themselves as beautiful; I want them to see everyone as beautiful. I pray that in some way as I embrace my inner beauty as a woman that my girls will grow in appreciation in walking fully in confidence knowing who they are inside and out.  My nickname for my eldest daughter is “Sugar” because of her sweet gentle spirit. I know and finally she knows that brown sugar babies are breatkingly beautiful.

Here are a  few tips to help foster a positive self- image, confidence, and self esteem for your daughter :  

  • Never speak low about yourself or put yourself down in front of your daughter.
  • Regardless if you’re dressed in sweats, a business suit, or in between be sure to always take pride in the way you carry yourself in appearance .
  • Be sure to build your daughter’s self esteem by giving her daily positive words of affirmation.
  • Make sure that you surround her with positive adults who can as well be of support with providing love, kindness and encouragement.
  • Be in tune and well aware of her surroundings at school and other to rule out or address any bullying or teasing from children or adults.
  • Introduce her to books and other outlets that promote positive self esteem and  acceptance of diversity .
  • Let her see girls and women that she can relate to who are soaring in accomplishing their goals and dreams.
  • Allow her to explore her creative genius and talents by participating in activities that she’s interested in.
  • Create a vision board of what it means to be beautiful from the inside using character words.
  • Keep a open dialogue of communication where she feels comfortable in sharing with you her thoughts and feelings .

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