I learned from a very young age that black is not beautiful.
I learned from all the childhood fairytales and Walt Disney stories which described the beautiful white princess with flowing blond hair, who was saved by the handsome white prince who instantly fell in love with her, enslaved by her fair beauty and silky golden locks.
My hair was short and nappy, my skin pale and freckled. I had big lips and brown eyes, and nobody ever described beautiful princesses that looked like me.
The handsome white boys – princes at school – called me ugly and said nasty horrible things about my hair.
They were definitely not enslaved by my special kind of beauty.
Every choice I made in life reflected the deeply imprinted understanding that I was not worthy of love, acceptance, joy, prosperity or happiness due to the fact that I was something “other” than white, and therefore-inherently “lacking.”
I know this is not news among black women and other women of color but it’s healing to me just to declare it ‘outloud’ and, most importantly, share with you how I moved from this paralyzing space.
I came to realize I was in denial about all this. It wasn’t until I began to heal the deepest, most precious part of myself as a woman that I became aware of those secret, hidden messages of my own self-loathing.
But the magic of this story is not in how these emotional/psychological traumas came to be, but the journey through which I learned to process, heal and release trauma from my body, mind and spirit.
In other words, how I learned to love myself.
In a remarkable series of events, I was introduced to sexual-spiritual healing by a skilled practitioner who helped me understand and apply the ancient practice of tantra.
In this country tantra is widely recognized for its sexual teachings (such as in the Kama Sutra). But tantra is a spiritual multi-disciplinary way of life that hails from India – and is often misunderstood when separated from its spiritual core.
For me, my introduction to tantra’s ancient approaches to sexuality helped my mind to shake the years of abusive conditioning, it liberated my soul of core issues that haunted me – while freeing my body to experience sexual pleasure.
Does that sound corny?
Maybe, but if I have your attention, read on.
At this point I’m not just speaking to women of color, but all women who are nagged by feelings of inadequacy about their bodies and over-all self image. The most important realization to begin healing is that you’re traumatized (like I was) and not going to have a healthy sexual relationship with anybody until you deal with it.
Yes, talk therapy is vital to begin freeing ourselves from the shame, guilt or pain that is in the way of a healthy, joyful life. And this is especially important for survivors of sexual abuse. But it’s significant, as well, for women who have been sent the message as a child or teenager that they’re not good enough.
But therapy alone is not enough – as it’s all talk, which meets the surface level of the mind but does not facilitate core healing.
Women come to me and say “I’ve never spoken to anybody about this. I’m feeling so much shame around it.” And thus begins the process of the same sexual healing that I experienced many years ago and am drawn to support others in this journey today.
So much of our identity as women is tied into our ability to understand, enjoy and express ourselves sensually. When we are educated about our body’s sexual (and spiritual!) facets, we are able to embrace our true sensuality and begin to connect with an integral aspect of our inner wisdom and feminine power.