Writing the Self 2: Prompt B

“Let’s get inside before it gets busier!” I said to my friend as we jumped out of her parents shiny, new SUV. It was the week of the Mosaic and we were just about to head into the India: Punjabi pavilion. I was 23 years old, 5 months pregnant and ready to eat for two. As we were walking towards the entrance, my friend made comments I will never forget to this day. “I can’t believe you’re having a baby”, she said. I nodded and smiled in agreement. Then she continued with, “I hope your baby has a nose and hair like yours.” I was completely taken off guard. “What do you mean?” I quickly responded. “You know, straight hair and a nose that looks small like yours.”

It would take nearly a year later until I actually confronted my friend about that conversation we had a year prior. I held in the pain I felt from those words. Both my friend and myself are white women of European descent, while my daughter who is now nearly seven years old is a mix of my ancestry and of West African ancestry. It wasn’t until the day of that conversation that I realised how much skin colour makes a difference, but also physical features make a difference in how people are viewed and treated. Straight hair and a pointed nose are what society deems as the most beautiful. I see it in every form of media.

Since having the realisation of how a body is being racialized, I have been very intentional about surrounding myself with more diverse representation. Not only for myself, but for my daughter. What I mean by this is, reading books about people from different parts of the world, different cultures, different faiths than our own. Listening to music or watching movies with diverse characters. Despite this, however, I almost daily will hear comments from my daughter who has the cutest curls, brown skin and brown eyes, that she wishes she was white like me and had straight hair like me. I have very fair skin with pink overtones and straight, dark brown hair and green eyes. I have no idea what it is like to be her, and I never will. 

Even though it has been over 7 years, I have become more aware of the comments that are being made about the physical features of those who are not white and who do not look like me. Beauty is subjective and should be celebrated for its diversity. There will always be strength when there is unity in diversity.

Attached is a picture of my daughter and myself taken in the summer of 2018.

Image

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Writing the Self 2: Prompt B

  1. The photo of you and your beautiful daughter caught my eye and I had to read your post!

    I could feel your pain when I read the comment you received from your friend I actually had to choke back tears. For me pregnancy was terrifying, worrying about every little thing, not knowing if the tiny human inside of you was growing how they should be, if they were getting the nutrients they needed, were they okay in there, was their birth going to go smoothly or would they end up in the NICU? I could not imagine adding to that the thought of my friends possibly not liking how my child looked and not thinking they were perfectly beautiful and immediately falling in love with them.

    Hearing about you celebrating diversity and surrounding your daughter with diversity in all aspects is absolutely amazing. I think this is something that us as parents should be doing for our children. We should be showing them the beauty we are lucky to have in this world and to celebrate all the differences around us.

    I loved reading about your strength as a mom and hope I am able to do the same as I raise my son so he can be proud of who he is, not afraid to be himself, and have respect, and love for all people. Thank you for the inspiring story!

    Like

    • Amber,

      Thanks so much for reading my story/experience. Being a mom can be such a scary thing because there are so many unknowns, but it is also such a gift! I think it is great that you want to instill the celebration of diversity with your child as well. Regardless of what color or culture we come from, it is up to us to share with them to love people regardless. I suppose love always starts will self before we can truly love others. But it is always easier said than done. It sounds like you’re on the right track to doing that. This class has really inspired and encouraged me to be more aware of my thoughts when I come across something that is different or new to me, and to take the time to understand it, not just observe it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Alicia,

    I really enjoyed your blog post. It was well structured and written. You gave good description which not only allowed me to picture myself there, but to also feel what you felt. I could tell that this moment in your life really affected you and I’m glad you shared it.

    I like how you went beyond the topics of just skin colour and talked about the common features of various ethnic groups. I know we often think about race as skin colour, but lots of times I think we don’t always consciously consider their features unless we are specifically focusing on them. However, I think their features are just as judged as their skin colour and that society can be so unkind when classifying what is part of the typical or beautiful norms.

    I loved how you posted a picture of you with your daughter. I think it really added some sentimental value and made your post more personal. She is beautiful and I’m glad to hear that you surround not only yourself but also your daughter around various diversity aspects. I believe that it will have a great impact on her life growing up and help her feel comfortable and confident in who she is. Not only will it make her aware of other cultures and ethnic groups, but I think she could have an impact in helping others view diversity differently.

    Stephanie

    Like

  3. Hello Alicia! To start off, what an absolutely beautiful photograph of you and your daughter! But also, what a beautiful message you have created within this blog post. Like I have stated in my own blog post, I do not believe that beauty should be labelled as having a certain body type, pigmentation of skin, or having a certain feature whether it be a nose or the way someones hair lays upon their head. I understand the feeling of being hurt by the way someone says something about another appearance, even though I do not have children myself, I can feel your hurt and disappointment through the screen. On another note, the way you stood up for yourself and explained to her how that comment made you feel, was very inspiring and I hope that when I become a parent I try as hard as you to make sure my child has the brightest and happiest future possible.

    In this day and age it is very easy to enroll a child into a school environment that holds diversity and accepting children. Yes, there will be a few who are not so excepting, but this seems to be found everywhere no matter what your genes hold for you. I, too, will never know what it feels like to be a child of colour or mixed backgrounds but I can clearly see that you will do anything it takes to make sure your daughter feels comfortable and secure in her own skin. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it really does pull on heartstrings and make you really wonder how strong a bond is between a mother and child, and how this world needs to learn to be more loving.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Writing The Self – Meegan Svedahl

Comments are closed.