It’s embarrassing to admit that I wanted to be a white girl for a large part of my life. I wanted the two-parent household, the bed with the canopy in the suburb, the medium-sized North Face jacket, the long, bone straight hair that always got in my way and all the privilege and fun that came with it.
I was in my teens when I drowned myself in white culture. I knew their white movies, their white songs from the 80’s and 90’s and I knew that if I just lost weight and became “flat bodied,” I could pull a white male to marry and have mixed children with —hopefully with a much better grade of hair than I had.
I had my Caucasian future planned out.
Pasted on my wall and doors were pages torn out of magazines of attractive white women. I studied them every time I woke up and every time I went to sleep. I cried softly in my pillow wondering why God put me in a Black body. A fat body. An unattractive body.
Magazines were important. They held weight. They notified me of the trends—what was in and what was out. Black faces were out. Black bodies were out. White faces, no curves and long legs were in. Straight teeth, full lips and light hair was in. Smooth skin, cinched waist and narrow noses were in. I had none of those attributes. And would never attain any without the help of cosmetic procedures.
I hated myself and no one even knew. I hid my identity issues behind aggression and haughtiness. I was that bitch. That no one could mess with, penetrate or compete with. But in that mindset, I was stagnant and didn’t even know it. I was closed and warped. I was a white woman trapped in a fat body. I was confused and misunderstood. I was a ball of contradictions. Dying inside, nowhere to turn, no one to talk to about it—no role model to seek out.
Just thinking about it now, makes me sad. Makes me angry. It also makes me ponder: how many other girls out there are going through this silent identity crisis? Competing against a magazine reality? Wanting to be something that they could never be?
The magazines I trusted and idolized—the magazine that utilized only one model of color in the entire spread, who was usually on the lighter side or mixed—had betrayed me. The media only highlighting rail-thin models who were as tall as giraffes had betrayed me. Those very white movies that I studied weren’t real at all because white-based happy endings didn’t happen in my Black, Muslim world. All of it was a sham created solely to boost the agenda of what the standard of beauty was and to degrade another. Photoshopped covers of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears were all I could think of. How smooth their skin was, no stretch marks, both breasts the same size, not one hair out of place. I believed that they had attained perfection—that God had given them—complete bodily perfection.
Until I figured out that kind of media wasn’t for me. For us. For the underrepresented. The disabled. The dark. The short. The so-called unattractive. The Muslim.
I had to hit rock bottom before I realized who I was. Who I really was as a person from the inside out. And on the inside, I was not a white woman. I no longer wanted to be a white woman. God didn’t make me a white woman for a reason. And I had become content with that fact. I dove into my Blackness wholeheartedly like a mermaid. I created my own beauty standards. Producing my own body positive and beauty campaigns with my own funds. My blood. My mental illnesses.
I stopped believing in those magazines. That reality TV show. Those airbrushed and photoshopped photos that I silently died to attain and started believing in my own abilities instead. My skills. And I emerged as a stronger Black woman. A proud Black woman. A crazy Muslim girl in her voluptuous hips and thoughtful mind.