Self Love - My Journey to Embrace Myself


As I was growing up, I never liked what I saw in the mirror. I guess most people have felt that way at some point in their lives. Looking back, I think my insecurities were deeply rooted in the lack of black female representation in mainstream media. Plus, I was brought up in small suburban city near Paris with predominantly white people.All my girl friends at the time were also white, this meant that for many years my idea of beauty was very much unattainable.  

As a young girl, I spent hours reading, watching TV, listening to music but I was rarely exposed to women that looked like me. I think somehow this made me reject who I was. Of course, I do not want to oversimplify the issue and I am sure other factors have impacted the way I perceived myself, but I can’t help but think media plays a key role in shaping our identity. 

It’s hard to admit but for a long time, I just didn’t want to be black anymore. It’s crazy, I know, but it’s the truth. I remember when I was young one of my uncles once told me "the only thing that makes you African is your skin colour". I never really unpacked this statement properly until recently. Whilst I always disagreed with him, deep down I knew I was never really proud of who I was. I would often dismiss my African origin, refused to wear any traditional attire, never bothered to learn how to cook the food of my ancestors or would be ashamed of my mum speaking our dialect in front of my friends. So, was my uncle right? 

It’s only when I moved to the UK that I started paying an interest in African culture. My very first encounter with an African author was when I read Chimamanda Ngozi’s magnificent Americanah. It simply and truly blew my mind. There’s something amazing about reading a book where the protagonist looks like you and shares similar struggles to yours. Not that Ifemelu was exactly like me, we are actually different in so many ways. However, in her book Chimamanda managed to articulate and capture so many issues that had crossed my mind in the past.

In the UK, I also started seeking out a lot more content curated by black women. I particularly liked following women of colour on YouTube. The first ones I discovered were Patricia Bright and Shirley B. Eniang, I loved hearing about their story and seeing them grow. I read more about African history and watched loads of documentaries to educate myself about a place I had always denied. I met a lot of inspiring black women and slowly but surely started to let go of some of my insecurities.

Things have changed a lot for me over the past few years. I have started growing into my own skin and liking what I saw in the mirror although I think I am only just scratching the surface. Regardless of who you are and what you look like, I know the journey to embrace oneself isn’t an easy one but it is definitely worth the ride. In the next coming months, I hope to use this platform to speak out about things that matter to me and engage with people that might somehow relate to my story or perhaps just want to share thoughts and ideas.