If a video crew walked up to you on a New York City sidewalk and asked you to strut your stuff down an impromptu runway, would you do it? That's what the NaturallyCurly team did recently in preparation for our annual fashion show, Texture On the Runway, powered by Sally Beauty.
We laid out our own runway on iconic Brooklyn sidewalks and challenged our team, NaturallyCurly community members, and complete strangers to walk the catwalk. As much fun as it was playing loud music, connecting with other curlies and cheering them on as they danced their way towards the camera, when my turn came it wasn't so easy. There were common refrains of "you go first," "I'll go after you," and "I'm not ready yet" as we all summoned up the courage to take the spotlight.
While it's been one of my biggest struggles as a teen and now as an adult, high self esteem and boundless self confidence actually did come naturally to me when I was a child. I was talkative (annoyingly so, I've been told) and loud and fearlessly took up space. But around the age of nine that all changed, as it does for so many young girls. It's the age we become painfully aware of the way our bodies look and how people value, or don't value, certain features. Textured hair is one of those contested features, and traditionally Fashion Week has been a seasonal reminder for many women that their beauty is not the right kind of beauty. For 19 years NaturallyCurly has been working to change that conversation, and that is why we feel it's so important for Texture On the Runway to take place at New York Fashion Week every year. Because representation has everything to do with our confidence.
If you too are in need of a self esteem booster this morning, read these words of wisdom from a few of the women who walked our catwalk.
You have ownership over your appearance
"To me, confidence is freedom and I have found a big part of my confidence from choosing to wear my hair my way, not anyone else's. I love how I can switch it up anytime I want, just like my clothing; natural hair is all about versatility. In order to truly feel comfortable in my own skin, I have taken ownership of my outside appearance, and my hair makes up a huge part of that." - Devri Velazquez
Treat yourself like your best friend
"It takes a conscious effort to unlearn the messages the media has taught me about the way I look and how I am valued by society, so I try not to be hard on myself when high self esteem doesn't come naturally. To combat self doubt I try my best to talk to myself the way I do my friends and loved ones. Would I ever tell my best friend her skin's looking really oily? Would I tell my mom her hair is too frizzy? Of course not! So why can't I show myself the same kindness?" - Yours truly
We all have seasons of feeling down
"To me, confidence is being self aware and not being afraid of showing the world who you really are. When I need a boost to my self esteem I listen to podcasts by Gary Vee because he is very real about us being in control of our feelings when it comes to our business and personal lives. I also read poetry by Alex Elle, and her writing reminds me that it is okay to have our seasons of feeling down about ourselves and work through it to make things better." - Kristy Ramos
You deserve it
"Confidence to me is loving and accepting all that is you. Your inner beauty, your outer beauty, and your mind. Finding my own confidence has allowed me to push and go after what I want 100% because I know I deserve it. With media and everyone around us telling us who we should be, what we should look like, and how we should feel, it's important to stay true to you and stand in what you believe in." - Leslie Lozano
If that doesn't work, turn to Google
"When my self esteem needs a boost I like to Google people who became successful later in life. Like what was J.K. Rowling doing at 27? And when that doesn't work, I tell myself I'm not the first person in the world to feel bad about myself and I won't be the last, so get over it as quick as you can sis." - Evelyn Ngugi
As you can see, we're all a work in progress.
I'd love to hear in the comments, what do you say to yourself when you need a self esteem boost?
You can see the full video we created on our NaturallyCurly Instagram.