UnPretty

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This little girl will grow up to become a teenager that doesn’t know her value, her worth, and her beauty and will travel through life thinking she is “unpretty”.  NOT ON MY WATCH!!!! 

In 1999, the group TLC released a song called “UnPretty”.  The basic premise of the song was a woman struggling with her self-image and unrealistic concepts of beauty.  While, I haven’t heard this song in ages, it came rushing back to me this week as a result of one of my interactions this week.

I was forced  asked to go conduct a group session with a group of girls at a East Austin Middle School.  Normally, I would jump at the chance to do that, however because I was forced asked, I RELUCTANTLY went.  In my mind, I was going to go and run this group real quick and then I would be on my way to the next thing on my list.  So, I quickly came up with a group exercise that would be quick and easy and I could “do my time” and be out of the door and put this experience into my distant memory.  

My lesson called for this group of middle school African American and Hispanic girls to create a personal character sketch.  I asked them to share basic information about themselves, their family, and their future.  Easy enough!  I can do this with my eyes closed.  

The girls completed their answers to the questions and now it was time for discussion.  I’m watching the clock and counting down my minutes until my “escape”.  The beginning of the discussion went along just as I planned.  Next question on deck “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would that be?”  (I thought about how I felt when I was a middle school girl while waiting for the girls to decide who would go first.)   First young lady, raises her hand and says that she wishes that she didn’t get the haircut she got.  Yep, could totally relate, as I thought about one of my hideous middle school pictures because the back of my hair was bigger than my whole head, while the front two ponytails were perfectly intact.  (Nope, no pictures will be shared, so don’t ask).

The answers from the next few girls were pretty standard…until I was blindsided.  A BEAUTIFUL, tall, athletic young lady raises her hand and says, “I wish I could change my skin color”.  

*cue tears, lip quivering, and complete silence*

I just sat there unable to form words and my saving grace was another girl that wanted to share her answer.  Thankful for the moment to get myself together, I simply nodded and she proudly shared her answer, she “wish she could change her face because she thought she was ugly”.  Okay, I’m on the verge of the UGLY cry, so I stop the group for a second to get myself together.  When I was able to formulate words again, I asked for a timeout from the rest of the character sketch.  

I told the group that I was upset and asked them if they knew why I was upset.  NO ONE, not one single girl could determine why I was so upset.  This saddened me even greater.  I then tried to find a creative way to get them to self-reflect a bit.  So, I asked one of the Hispanic girls about her culture and heritage and asked her to share a cultural thing that she was proud of.  The little girl stared at me and hunched her shoulders.

Have we stopped telling our girls that they are beautiful?  Will we continue to allow the media to determine what pretty and what’s “unpretty”?  How long with this go on?  

When did we stop telling our young ladies that black really is BEAUTIFUL?  Yes, there are campaigns such as “Black Girls Rock” or “My Black is Beautiful”, but their target audience is primarily women and not our middle school girls.  Yes, I remember Dove’s “Unstoppable” Campaign, but did any of these campaigns reach the masses as it was intended to do?  

For eight 11-14 year old girls in a East Austin Middle School, the message hasn’t been heard.  

This blog started off well…just a blog, now it is a clarion call for women of all ages to get together and let’s make a change in the lives of MIDDLE school girls everywhere.  

For more information, please reach out to me at kennettap@gmail.com.  Let’s get started, I need your help and there is a middle school girl that is waiting on YOU.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. roz davis says:

    Awesomec article. I shared on fb

    Like

  2. kennettap says:

    Thanks Roz for taking the time to read the article and sharing with others.

    Like

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