On paper I am more white than I am black. In appearance I don’t match the way my mom or my sister look. I have curly corse hair. I have “darker” skin. They have straight hair and light skin. I grew up in a town at least 80% white. I did not look like any of my friends. I look just like my dad, who is a mixed man. But, he didn’t live in this town with us. In elementary school I can remember a couple black kids. We were friends. I always felt most comfortable around black people because they didn’t ask why my hair was like this, or say racial slurs. But then again I wasn’t fully black, and didn’t look just like my black friends either. I’ve had an identity crisis from day one. I grew up in a white home. A white neighborhood. White schooling. But I didn’t look like the majority. I started to wear the most amount of sunscreen you could wear. I never went to lay in the sun. I learned how to straighten my hair. I learned how to disguise the way God created me to look and fit in with my peers. It was more than just wanting to fit in. I didn’t want to be made fun of. I didn’t want to hear the racial slurs. Back then, I didn’t know they were racial slurs. It was all I knew and that’s how I started to identify myself. My natural look made me “ugly” in the eyes of some people. But, beautiful when I blended in to look like them. Once I started feeling beautiful masking my natural self it was impossible for me to turn back. My husband for 5 years has begged me to look natural. To wear my hair how God intended. To be able to go to the beach and actually enjoy the sun and the water. I wouldn’t look at myself and think good thoughts when I did this. Therefore, why would I want to do that. Growing up I was not the only one who did this. Everyone who had curly hair or darker skin in my small town did this. The girls that did look like me changed their appearance too. The adolescent mind is not one of independence. It wants to be like everyone you’re around. I am not nearly as dark as some of my friends, and they are still damaged from years of undoing themselves. We have to acknowledge that we were made the exact way we were intended to be. I finally love how “different” I look. Because of social media I have learned a lot of girls actually look like me. This has given me the confidence I didn’t have when I was younger. Perms are more damaging to your soul than to your hair… be you. You’re beautiful the way you are.