• malaikaobonyo

letter to a troubled 13-year-old black girl | diary


I know you are going through a rough time right now. You feel like the walls are closing in, and you feel like it's going to be like this forever... it won't. You won't always feel so insecure. You will get to a point in life where people love you for your dark skin, big lips and different features instead of ridiculing you for it. Life's so different now; you don't give a fuck about not wearing specific colours because a family member said it made you look darker. You spend a lot of time outside in nature and can sunbathe without guilt and fear of getting darker. You are 20 now and have realised we actually look banging in all colours. We like the deeper complexation given to us by the sun.


Another thing you need to realise is that the length and looseness of peoples curls is not an indication of how beautiful they are. I know you are currently surrounded by images of women that look nothing like you and that you hear the constant praise of those people. Still, the beauty of someone else doesn't take away from your own. So please don't let people dim your light, please don't relax your kinky hair because you want to slick your hair like everyone else. Please stop thinking that your existence will be more valid if you had longer and straighter hair (jokes on us because I now shave my head religiously, so start getting used to it).


You will also figure out (I wish it were sooner rather than later) that seeking validation from friends, peers, and boys will only fill the void so much. This idea of desirability that you so crave is rooted in fatphobia, racism, ableism and sexist ideals. So trying to conform to these standards that were not created for you to thrive in is just setting yourself up for failure. Do beauty by your own standards, because you are beautiful. So beautiful. Let it be known that the insides have to match the outsides—work on being a better person, and kinder to those around you. Looking beautiful is minuscule compared to the more in-depth you, your thoughts, and who you are when people aren't around.


When you get older, there isn't much that you regret as you strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. One thing you will always regret is not spending time with Mum (spoiler alert she dies in 3 years). I know it's hard because you're at the peak of your teenage angst. Your mental illness is taking over your life, and the only thing you feel like doing is isolating yourself. She doesn't understand but still doesn't deserve that treatment. You will never get this time again, and yes, it's unfair that it's cut short, but you can handle it, and it will make you grow stronger.


I know that this is all a lot to take in right now, but I'm not done just yet. Quite frankly, your low self-esteem and lack of boundaries are sadly going to lead you into some bad situations with some harmful dynamics. You can't see it just yet, but you have so much going for you. You are funny, kind, loving and creative. Please stop placing value on the opinions of these little boys. They really don't matter. (Another plot twist: you are now very gay, so they really, really don't matter.)


There is one last thing I want to leave you with that as you start to grow: Everything you know as a reality will be stripped away and what will be left is your true self. Beneath all the layers, beneath the superficial beauty - who are you? Are you a good person? Once you figure that out and work on it, everything else will fall into place. Despite all I said, it really will not all be that bad. It will all be worth it because you are going to grow into someone so unique and so strong. You will create work that touches you and the people who encounter it. You will be an absolute powerhouse.


The only thing I need you to do is stay alive long enough to see it.


I love you.


From your future self,

Malaika




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