5 Ways I'm Teaching My Teen Daughter to Confidently Love Her Beauty

by Amber Dorsey

Last week we saw a flurry of action in the social media sphere after E!'s Fashion Police Giuliana Rancic made a comment about young actress Zendaya Coleman's faux locs at the Academy Awards. As the mother of a young teen who LOVES fashion, we often watch post award show wrap-ups to see what others thought of looks we liked and to catch up on what we might have missed. My daughter and I loved Zendaya's look and were so excited to see her at the awards, so I was really disheartened when we heard Giuliana's derogatory remarks about her "looking like she smells of patchouli oil and weed.”

(Insert every side eye that ever side-eyed here.)

Zendaya crafted a well written response to Giuliana about the off putting remarks and I felt as proud as if she were my own child. In essence, she harnessed her ancestors’ strength and shut her detractor down properly. While Rancic eventually apologized on both social media and on live TV for her offensive comments, it brought up a lot of conversations about young black women, how they see themselves, and how they are perceived in the media.
It also got me thinking about my own daughter, her idea of beauty, and what I'm doing to either perpetuate or break down societal misconceptions. She is barely a teenager and, while we continue to go through these tumultuous years together, I am often reminded of my own feelings when I a young woman struggling to fit in and feel beautiful in a world that didn’t have a lot of “me” in it. I now hope to show her the progress that has been made since I was her age: that there is more to her beauty than what is seen in magazines, TV shows, and in music videos. It is my mission to provide my daughter with positive images of black beauty in all its many hues and forms, and these are a few ways that I’m making it a part of our daily conversation and life.

1. Encouraging her to wear her hair natural more often.

As the number of women we see in the media are embracing their natural textures and rocking their kinks and curls more often, I’ve encouraged my young one to feel free to wear her hair “out” as often she likes. This also encourages her to learn how to take care of and maintain her curls in the healthiest way possible. Part of the reason we love how well Black-ish is doing is because the characters all rock their hair in whatever way suits them, while also commenting on how hair is perceived within the black community. Thus, more attention has been brought to the natural hair movement through mainstream media.

2. Exposing her to different cultures and non-Westernized standards of beauty.

Watching television is a big part of her teenage life, so it’s important for me to show her other perspectives and worldviews than what we see through dominant media. Therefore, we watch a lot of documentaries and shows about or from other countries, to learn about how they view beauty. I also make an effort to show her images of beautiful black women from around the world who are doing great things. By doing this, I’m teaching her that beauty transcends physical features.

3. Talking to her about what makes her feel pretty and why.

I am a big talker. And because of my background in beauty industry, I have a healthy interest in beauty products and makeup, but I also am aware that my actions have just as much effect on her as my words do. I make it a point to keep the negative talk to a minimum and stress natural beauty as a whole, while showing how to highlight her natural beauty with the use of makeup when and if the occasion calls for it.

4. Teaching her about all the women who have come before her and all the many ways black women are beautiful.

Vintage Black Glamour is on its way to our home and I can’t wait to show her some of the most elegant versions of black beauty in one fabulous collection. Our mutual love of fashion and its evolution is a bonus, and I’m excited to teach her about many of the black women designers from throughout the years.

5. Sharing stories like Zendaya's and how she can relate to and learn from them.

To be honest, teenagers aren’t always interested in hearing the socio-political debates about the intersections of race, culture, and beauty. But when situations like the one around Zendaya’s hair arises—someone who they can relate to or are interested in—they suddenly want to be involved in the dialogue. They begin to see the world outside their immediate bubble and gain perspective into why people get up in arms about comments like these and how words can be hurtful even when cloaked in "humor."

It's important that we teach our young ones that their Black is beautiful.

How do you celebrate your black beauty? And how are you encouraging the girls and young women in your life to do the same?

Photo: Shutterstock

Amber Dorsey is a Southern California writer, stylist and makeup artist living in Southern California with her husband and two crazy kids. When she’s not tapping away at the computer she can be found scouring the aisles of Michael’s plotting her next Pinspired project or in the kitchen perfecting her margarita making techniques. You can also find her on Instagram @fromcarpools2cocktails,or on her blog From Carpools to Cocktails .

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