Black is Beautiful - by Naima Fowlis (Njfo)

Black is beautiful.
Black is beautiful.
That may be what we hear, but that's not what we see.
I hear beauty and I don't think me.
I see beauty and I don't see me.
I hear tall and blonde.

I see thin and tanned.

Girls want to be darker but not too dark.
God forbid they end up black.
God forbid they end up looking like me.
Ingrained in us that black is dirty,
Black is evil, black is bad.
Hearing those associations, it makes me so mad.

When I see black I don't see those things.

I see little girls choosing white dollies because everyone knows they're prettier.
I see grown women bleaching their skin.
Literally erasing the colour from themselves.
I see myself, young, naive, just wanting to be beautiful. 

They taught me that black was the absence of light,
And indeed, that is how I saw myself.
I was the absence of beauty.
I was incapable of beauty.

I would stand in front of my mirror,
Search every corner of my body,
Every inch of my skin,

And yet I did not see beauty.

I saw the scars societies ideals had etched onto my skin.
I saw the heads I failed to turn.
I saw the hearts that did not skip a beat.

What I did not see was that I was seeing myself the way society wanted me to see myself.

I did not see beautiful brown eyes,
That despite so much sadness kept on shining.
I did not see a beautiful smile that filled others with joy.
I did not see the beautiful curves my body carried with such grace.
I did not see the beautiful black skin that enveloped my whole being,

Encasing me like a smooth, velvet cloak I could never take off.

I did not see beautiful.

It was only when I realised that beauty is not defined by society's ideals
That I truly embraced my beauty.
I am not society.
I am not the beauty you force down our throats.
Where so many have choked on the ideals you set,

I shall bring up what you force down me.

I shall thrive.
I shall grow.
I shall stay beautiful.

- Naima Fowlis


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