Black Beauty

When I gave a talk on ‘Self-Esteem and Confidence’ to teens I showed them this image:

Khoudia Diop

I then gave them 5 seconds to think of one word to describe the lady in the image. I did this for two reasons: to evaluate the way they viewed things and to prove a point. They had to shout out the first word that came to mind. When I counted down to zero they all shouted a mixture of “dark” and “black”. I had expected this. I then let them know the truth – that the first word that I had thought of was “beautiful” but “dark” indeed followed close behind. The reason “beautiful” came up so quickly is because my outward perception is now driven by my new inward viewpoint. If you had asked me the same question a couple of years ago I would have definitely fallen into the former category. However because I now view all aspects of myself in a positive light, even the not so pretty things, I can now project that positivity on others and point out the things that make them unique and special with ease.

This young lady is called Khoudia Diop. Born in Senegal she moved to Italy to study. Obviously she was an outlier in that region and if you didn’t already know, being different makes you a target for hate, so hate her they did. There were those that could not accept the melanin clad beauty that was Khoudia and she was verbally attacked and called all sorts of names (as you would expect). Under such intense scrutiny (in that environment someone that dark will ALWAYS attract attention) it would have been easy for her to bow down under all the pressure and crumble. She was bullied constantly on every social platform and in person – enter Bullying: Make Or Break. Khoudia spoke out. She acknowledged her dark skin (dark it is – there is no denying it) and embraced her natural beauty. Bullies may have directed barbed words in her direction but she made sure they didn’t hook to her coffee coloured skin – instead she let them bounce off like it was a trampoline. She allowed the pressure to turn her coal to diamond, to ‘make her’ and eventually her mature responses as well as her uniqueness opened doors. This is her now:

Melanin Goddess

She’s an Instagram star with half a million followers and thousands of girls looking up to her as a role model. She is also a professional model even though she left for Italy without the prospect ever crossing her mind. Khoudia is now a symbol black girls and any girls that may have felt marginalised because of their appearance or some unique quality they possess look up to. She even hangs out with celebrities as shown by this pic of her with Lupita Nyong’o.

Khoudia x Lupita

All because she didn’t let bullying break her.

Let’s get this right Khoudia is dark! Khoudia was attacked for it!

But Khoudia didn’t let bullies define how she views herself!

Will you?

Standing Alone

I am sure we can all agree that this world is obsessed with quantity, especially in one’s social life. We are often bombarded by sometimes unuttered questions such as: How many followers do you have? How many likes did you get?

Do you know that those social media apps could die? Most will eventually. The likes that we seem to live or die for will not last forever. 

Just like Digg. Now you can read titles like this about the platform:

Screenshot 2019-04-06 at 21.32.36

The same goes for the endorsement we feel we need from certain peers in our social circles. People come and go in this life. C’est la vie. My challenge to you is be intentional about who you want to hang around for the long haul. Seek quality people to do life with you. However, if you don’t find a character suitable at this moment, please don’t settle! Stand alone and run your own race! The validation of others isn’t worth potentially violating your principles – and if you can’t stand alone, that is exactly what you will do. When the character that you decided to cleave to puts you in a position where you need to choose their pseudo-loyalty or a principle you have, if you can’t stand alone, you’ll violate it. And all that’s going to do is place you further away from the standard you want to reach. But if you have the wherewithal to go it alone in that situation who knows how far you’ll go.

At the peak of the steepest mountains there’s very rarely room for two.

See you tomorrow for Meek Means Freedom.

What’s Your Weight?

I’ll start off by saying I don’t know the stats so this post is mainly based conjecture, therefore perhaps a rhetorical question is in order. Has there been an increase in mental health issues with the rise of social media? I’m sure you’ve read a post or two thousand by now detailing the adverse effects that social media can have on an individual. How could you come out feeling better about the muck you are walking through right now when everywhere you look your ‘friends’ are blinging and showing off their best life? That’s all you ever see isn’t it? Only the very best is what is portrayed on social media. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the very best pictures on your gadget, then have a look at your instagram posts, is there an overlap? I rest my case. What then? Because the comparison we undergo naturally kills a piece of us every time we take a glimpse of the glory in others’ lives should we stay away completely? I’m one of those that doesn’t subscribe to that train of thought. Yes, personally I have taken a step back from Twitter and SnapChat. Yes I haven’t been on instagram in months and I’ve ditched the Facebook app for Messenger Lite – but that’s just me and I realised that’s what I wanted. But one can’t lie to self and deny how powerful a tool social media can be, if used correctly. Your business can thrive because of social media, as a student you can get recognition, opportunities and even scholarships if you use the tools correctly. Perhaps we need to come to the realisation that that is what all these apps are: tools. And like any tools, if you don’t know what they are for, you’ll abuse them and may hurt yourself in the process. My advice? Build yourself up first, get to a point where you know where you are and where you are going such that someone else’s words, someone else’s likes or someone else’s posts won’t move you. Once you’ve built up your self-esteem to a point where comparison isn’t your basic mental posture, you’re free. Otherwise maybe it’s best you stay away until then.