“You’re not allowed to wear fake hair.”
These seven words played on a loop throughout my childhood. My father’s tone was always strict, and he repeated this sentence weekly. And each time, like clockwork, tears filled my eyes as my seven-year old self tried to convince him otherwise.
“Please, Dad-” I would beg.
“No,” he would respond firmly. “You have to love what God gave you. You’re not white. You’re a Nubian princess.”
Back then, it quite literally felt like my father was trying to ruin my life. All the white girls at school had long, straight blond hair that fell down their backs. The mixed girls had long, curly ringlets that bounced when they walked. And I had twists that could barely touch my shoulders no matter how hard I tried to make them stretch. My natural afro was wild and untamed, and to my displeasure, my father was forcing me to love it.
I was devastated.
I wanted to be beautiful in the eyes of the world – and even as a child, I knew that meant looking like my blond-haired barbie dolls or my white friends at school. They were the ones the boys liked – they were the pretty ones. And with this simple observation, my perception of beauty as a child formed into one that did not include me.