Overcoming A-stigma-tism: (An Affirmation) For Blackgirls Who Have Considered Suicide When Closed Eyes Are Enuf

25 Oct

astigmatism: the inability to see clearly

stigma: a mark of disgrace or infamy

-ism: a suffix added to terms to reflect a symptom or ideology

“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.”

I see you.

You are beautiful and you don’t even know it.

I mean it.

You are!

If no one has told you yet today, consider me the first.

Sometimes just hearing the words can make all the difference in the world.  I know what it feels like when no one tells you that you are beautiful.  I know how powerful those words can become when someone uses them against you… wielding them like a weapon used to keep you in line, threatening to destroy you with the silence that you feel so deep when the words stop being spoken.  “…with your fine self,” …”with your pretty self,” “with your ___________…”

The world stops telling blackgirls they are beautiful after while,

if it ever tells us at all

Mama doesn’t say it

either because she thinks you already know it

or because she is preoccupied with getting by

Daddy might not say it

because he is too busy calling out somebody else’s pretty

After elementary school, when you need to hear it the most

friends won’t say it

out of fear that your pretty might be prettier than theirs

In high school the words are hidden beneath innuendos that imply your pretty is conditional

But it’s not

By the time you are in your twenties you are so used to being presumed ugly that it is internalized

Looking back at myself, I had no idea I was a pretty blackgirl

I was too busy trying to be invisible

apologizing to myself &

overcompensating for what I thought was wrong (with me)

Don’t make that mistake, don’t accept the hype, don’t believe the bullish

Don’t let the absence of words cloud your vision or keep you from seeing (yourself) straight.

Don’t wait for a man, or a friend, or a father, or a stranger, or a woman you like to tell you

Tell yourself

And mean it

Pay attention to who you are, what you have overcome, what you have survived.

You are a remarkable, beautiful, precious genius!  Everything about you is wonderful.

You are just the way you are supposed to be

You are not a distortion or a mistake

You are loved.

And worthy of love.

And forgiveness.

Sometimes the stigma of so much pain and disappointment and worry and sickness and stereotypes and struggles and self-hate and sacrifice and lack and discrimination and blackness and femaleness and being different pass down

legacies of loss or shame

that weigh you down

but I have a remedy

for astigmatism (not seeing yourself clearly)

for the stigma (of past choices or limitations)

of feeling misunderstood

for the –ism that feels attached to everything you do

and everything you are

It’s a perception problem

You need a new lens

so you can see yourself





Stop in front of a mirror today

Open your eyes all the way

Don’t stop looking until you see it

Your capacity and possibility

Your mahogany-skinned beauty

Your charcoal eyes

Your frizzy/wavy/kinky/curly/straight hair

Your wide nose

Your luscious lips

The pot in your belly, the junk in your trunk

The marks that stretch from here to there

And the moles and marks that are uniquely your own

You are beautiful

And being beautiful-black doesn’t mean you have to be strong

But be awake

Be present

Be open

And be forgiving

Open your eyes

See yourself

& love yourself

in all your magnificence and fury

And when you do, and tears rush into an open smile

Show another blackgirl

How badass beautiful she is

Tell her ‘til she rolls her eyes at the ridiculousness of it all

When she doesn’t hear you, because she’s not used to the words,

Tell her again

Tell her ‘til she throws up her hands, shakes her head, and smiles in sweet surrender

to the fact that being all of who she is

is (and always has been) enuf

30 Responses to “Overcoming A-stigma-tism: (An Affirmation) For Blackgirls Who Have Considered Suicide When Closed Eyes Are Enuf”

  1. travelling womanists October 25, 2012 at 8:16 AM #

    Reblogged this on The Chronicles of Travelling Womanists and commented:
    Dear All,
    I hope this finds you well. I am currently in Haiti working with vulnerable girls throughout the capital of Port -au-Prince. I read this today and could not stop thinking about the girl groups, that I have had the privilege of sitting in on over the course of the last week. I read this and thought about all these young girls.
    Thank you for sharing this with me today. I assure you, I will not let any girl leave the circle today without telling her how beautiful she is, not just today but every day!
    Love Erzuhlie

  2. lasondramarie October 25, 2012 at 8:17 AM #

    I love this! I was this girl too, so thanks for writing this!

  3. Andrea October 25, 2012 at 8:34 AM #

    Fantastic! Except none of the images are of women with pots in their bellies or junk in their trunks. All the women are THINbeautiful. What about FATbeautiful?

    • rboylorn October 25, 2012 at 9:47 AM #


      The images were selected because they were black women with glasses (I was going for the “astigmatism” factor), not because of their body type. In no way did I intend to insinuate that one type of beauty trumps another.

      I am on my way to consciously select (and add) a full bodied image of a full bodied beautiful woman…stay tuned 😉

  4. Around The Way Curls October 25, 2012 at 9:12 AM #

    That was absolutely perfect and a Godsend. I would love to repost.

  5. Nicole October 25, 2012 at 9:24 AM #

    You have no idea how much I needed this today. Thank you, and sharing.

  6. dramaqueen1913 October 25, 2012 at 9:27 AM #

    Reblogged this on wtpdiaries and commented:
    Somebody besides me needed to hear this today…Thank you for reminding me that I AM “enuf.”

  7. kenya October 25, 2012 at 9:58 AM #

    thank you for this post! i needed it ten years ago and i still need it now ^^

  8. Kal October 25, 2012 at 10:07 AM #

    More than 30 years ago I was walking up a staircase and a beautiful black girl was coming down. I stopped her and asked, Is there anyone in your life who reminds you often how gorgeous you are? She started to beam and then broke into tears and ran off. I have been leery ever since of saying something like that. I think I shall start again.

  9. sheridf October 25, 2012 at 10:55 AM #

    R. This is so amazing I can’t even hold back the tears. Your words your rhythm your vision is so precisely on point and I thank you. I thank you. I thank you!

    (1964) Nina Simone, Waring Cuney

    She does not know
    Her beauty.
    She thinks her brown glory,
    She thinks her brown body
    Has no glory.
    If she could dance
    Under palm trees
    And see her image in the river
    She would know
    Yes, she would know.
    But there are no palm trees
    In the street,
    No palm trees in the street
    And dishwater gives back no images.

    Along with our new lenses we need natural reflections, safe shelter, and movement. We need our rivers and palm trees and dancing.

    • rboylorn October 25, 2012 at 10:52 PM #

      CF, ❤ … that Nina Simone is brilliant. And I concur with the additional necessities of what we need…reflections, shelter, movement… yes!!! That!!!

  10. shayetova October 25, 2012 at 1:23 PM #

    That was such an unexpected blessing. Brought tears to my eyes.
    Thank you.

  11. Deb October 25, 2012 at 4:12 PM #

    Absolutely beautiful!

  12. justanotheropinion October 25, 2012 at 9:12 PM #

    Thank you. I needed this today. And I’ve printed it for future reference.

  13. LaToya Baldwin Clark (@gradmommy) October 25, 2012 at 10:06 PM #


  14. Anna October 26, 2012 at 9:29 AM #

    Thank you.
    You are truly beautiful.

  15. SoWeTo? October 29, 2012 at 2:10 AM #

    Reblogged this on SoWhatsArt?.

  16. porschia November 2, 2012 at 8:16 PM #

    haven’t even read this article yet, but the title alone reminds me of one of the many reasons i adore you, cfc.

  17. ewurabasempe November 4, 2012 at 4:54 PM #

    Reblogged this on Musings of An African Woman.

  18. Marian Fredal November 6, 2012 at 8:28 AM #

    This is beautiful! And powerful, profound!
    Makes me think.
    I love you,

  19. fordreamersonly November 10, 2012 at 10:34 PM #

    Reblogged this on Sound OFF.

    • Luna Sky November 17, 2012 at 3:56 PM #

      I am in tears right now. I was that girl and now sometimes that woman. It’s still a long road to travel.

  20. jusRhae November 21, 2012 at 11:00 AM #

    BlOG ON BlOG ON!!! Forever am I moved!!! Yes, mid-twenties is when I began my self-affirmations, and then late twenties started reading Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life, and took an old lipstick (deep red) and wrote affirmations onto my mirrors. I had no choice but to see them. When I had good days, great days, low and high days, reading them gave me strength, encouragement and understanding. Every day that I see my reflection I see a reflection of who I am, who I am glad to be….and especially who I am glad my niece(s) sees.

  21. Shauntrice December 5, 2012 at 10:11 PM #

    a great friend sent this to me and i was finally able to read it today. Wonderful, thought-provoking words. Beautiful.


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