Letters to My Daughter – Part 3: Self Esteem & Beauty

By Neysa Ellery Taylor

Dear Asyen and Maya,

Since you are a Black woman in America, there will be many assaults on your self esteem.  You are much more than some tail.  You are much more than cute.  You are “fearfully and wonderfully made!”  You are some of God’s best work!  Don’t get cocky because everyone is God’s best work because He doesn’t make mess.  But you should believe that you are special, because you are.

If you want to have a healthy self esteem, then remember a few things.
1.  The way you look is important but who you are inside is more important.  Lead with nice.  Don’t be a mean girl.  Don’t wear bitchy as a badge of honor.  You an be assertive, aggressive, smart, witty, and NICE.  Too many people forget that.

2.  Pretty is fleeting, but smarts are forever.  Don’t be the giggly girl that thinks being dumb is cute.  It’s not.  Smart is cute.  Smart is wonderful.  Smart lasts forever.

3.  Don’t feed your self-esteem a diet of crap.  If all you know is Style Magazine or music videos, then you will have no idea of how awesome you are.  But if you are reading Maya Angelou, Pearl Cleage, or Mildred Taylor, your self-esteem cup will be overflowing.

4.  Always think “I can do it” first.  There is nothing cute about “I can’t.”  Too many women believe they can’t do something.  Saying “I don’t want to do something” is totally different than saying “I can’t do something.”  You can speak Spanish.  You can change a tire.  You can paint a room.  You can fix the plumbing.  You might not want to, but you can.  And the only way that you will know that you can is by doing.  So do (fill in the blank).  (Guidepost:  Call Auntie Sjar.  Her adventurous spirit runs deep.  She believes that she can and she does!)

But there are a few things you should know about beauty.

1.  The first is that you have to define your own look.  Most people fall into one of 2 categories – signature style or style chameleon.  Folks with a signature style have a go-to look that influences all of their style decisions – think Mikki Taylor.  But there are other folks who are style chameleons – think Beyonce.  There are pros and cons of each but you have to figure out who you are and which style category you fall in.  Then own it!  Do You!

2.  Look your best.  That means no head rags, ashy-ness, or chapped lips.  Think about Grandy.  When Grandy steps out the door she is ready to meet and greet anyone.  She would not be embarrassed to say “hi” to anyone.  That doesn’t mean that she is suited up all the time.  It just means that she is ready to face the day giving her best self.  We should all do the same.

3.  Wear clothes that fit your shape.  Some are apples.  Some are hourglasses.  Some are palm trees (ok I made that one up!) But everyone has a different shape.  So wear clothes that compliment your shape and don’t try to be anyone else.  (Guidepost: If you need help with this call Miss Faith.  She is an awesome stylists!)

4.  Wear clothes that fit.  If you are a size 12, own it.  Don’t stuff a 12 into an 8.  You just will look like a hot link sausage.  Actually a hot link would look better because it’s at least smooth.  And speaking of smooth, undergarments are important.  Grandy wore girdles back in the day, but then the 70’s came and girdles went out the window.  But guess what?  We are learning that the correct undergarments are so important.  I still hate panty hose, but the right underwear will have you looking together.  This isn’t just for the curvier girls.  EVERYONE can benefit from the right undergarments.

There will be days when you will fill less than awesome.  Don’t worry it happens to everyone.  Whenever you are feeling down and need a self-esteem boost, you should turn up India.Arie and Jill Scott.  (Just grab my ipod.)  Sing out LOUD!  Do a little dance.  But if that doesn’t work, call me.  I will always tell you how awesome you are!

I love you more every day!

Neysa Ellery Taylor is an integral part of the writing team here at Blackloveandmarriage.com. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, Chris, and their 4 children – Asyen, Maya, Preston, and Patrick. An Emmy-Award winning journalist, she hopes to share her passion for marriage and God through her writing. You can read more of her work atMyriadthatisme.blogspot.com

3 replies
  1. Tasha
    Tasha says:

    I liked this letter. I often write letters to my girls for encouragement or send a little text right before they make it to school so that they know that they can accomplish anything and this day is going to be great. I do it because when I was growing up my mother never hugged or kissed me of showed any signs of affection and my father was always at work, so i had no one to encourage me or to show me that they loved me and that I was worth something or a somebody. I want my girls to always know that they are beautiful inside and out and that i love them and am here to support them no matter what. I never wanted my girls to grow up like me.

  2. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    Every time I read one of your letters I feel encouraged. You are truly a blessing Neysa

    • Neysa
      Neysa says:

      Thank You! I often think the letters to my babies are also letters reminding me to be my best self. Thank you for your kind words

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