… because I’m not as pretty

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By Takiya La’Shaune Smith

When Maria walks into a room, she strides in, completely unaware of the head-turnng capability she possesses, not only in her vibrant youthfulness but in the obvious visibility of her beauty. At a petite 4 feet, 8 inches, Maria has a svelte frame, creamy mocha latte skin, gorgeous shoulder-gracing curls, length envy eyelashes, china doll eyes and a “just left the gym” figure. Yet, as we sit down to discuss her personal view of self-image, it seems as if she was left out, didn’t get the memo or has been looking at herself in a dirty, cracked mirror. Maria is cute, pretty, beautiful, gorgeous and yet she has been flawlessly flawed when referring to herself as not being pretty enough in comparison to other young women her age.

Maria is a 19-year-old single mother of a beautiful baby girl, and though 19 and single may not have been her ideal choice of steps ordered, she knows one thing for sure, and it’s change for a secure future. Coping — not only with being a young mother, but raising a child alone — is enough to take even the most mature of us along for an emotional ride. Throw in having to postpone college, forego the peer social scene and struggle to commit to a boyfriend, who, aside from the fact now shares a child with you, continues on with life as usual. The end result, all too often, is the exact place Maria has found herself, which is smothered in low self-esteem, a poor view of self-image and a heart-aching dose of little to no self-respect.

When complimented on her looks, Maria hesitates with an unsure pause, not quite confident in how to respond. In further discussion, she gives me insight on the complex relationship she has and states that she dislikes the place she is at. “I don’t know if I’m enough for my boyfriend because I’m not as pretty.”

As my heart melted to hear such a confession, the sting of the truth and the state of our female youth sunk in even deeper. Hidden within that one sentence, that one confession, was a million and one wounds needing to be healed. Being enough. Being independent. Being confident. Being secure. Being assured. Being strong. Being loved. Being respected. Just being should have been more than enough, but for Maria, like so many girls, it wasn’t.

For the next couple of hours I listened to what has become a similarity in words, actions and situations amongst not only young ladies but women. Women feeling that what we have, who we are and what we possess are not enough. No doubt, the definition of beauty goes far beyond and even exceeds this world’s explanation of what we have placed in a box and tied with a pretty little bow. Beauty encompasses more than just a look, requires more than just a style and reaches wide outside the lines. Beauty starts within. It’s the voice of love, hope and uplifting. How can a voice be heard if we are not willing to hear it speak?

Takiya La’Shaune Smith, licensed cosmetologist, mentor and owner of Beautique Lash & Brow, is an author and beauty columnist promoting inner and outer beauty, self-esteem, preservation and awareness. Follow her blog at www.blb-boutiques.com, find her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TakiyaLSmith, email her Takiya@Takiya-LaShaune.com or call 843-263-0426.