I recently had the awesome opportunity to speak to a group of girls on Chicago’s Southside. This is amazing group of young ladies is so full of promise, talent, and light. It was inspiring working with them, and I’m grateful to my dear friend Michelle Pechter and Aspire to Greatness for granting me the opportunity to “pour into” these young ladies for a few minutes. I walked into the event thinking of how great it would be to take the minutes allotted to speak a word of truth into their hearts—to tell them something that could change the course of their lives for the better.
So what did I tell these girls? What nugget of truth did I feel was the one thing that I could leave with them and feel I had fulfilled my purpose? I told them the one thing that I know now that would have accelerated the course of my life had I heard it earlier. I told them the truth, that it is more than okay to be yourself.
It’s okay to be your awesome, unique self.
I told them that they are great as is. What does that mean? Well, in short, that the gifts, passions, and interests within them—their unique characteristics—are an amazing part of them that they should embrace and cultivate, rather than hide and alter to fit in. I told them that it is okay to want to be a doctor, if that’s what’s in you, and that it’s also perfectly okay to design doll clothes, if that’s who you are. I mean, think about it, while others scoff at the idea, somebody is getting paid top dollar by Mattel to design clothes for their dolls. It’s about not thinking small of who we are. We are great—each and every one of us.
I had to tell them the truth. Why? Because no one ever told me that, or at least not in a way that I could receive. I was already 30 when I began to halfway view myself as an artist, and I just started calling myself an author. I want children to know that it is okay to accept the gifts that are in them, to cultivate and celebrate those gifts. I mean, I’ve spent at least 20 years trying to deny the creator I was meant to be—regardless of what evidence was all around me—and now, I know better. There’s no stopping me. I’ve been through some of roughest times of my life these past few years but I guarantee you, now that I know who I am, I won’t let anything stop me. It doesn’t matter what “setbacks” I’ve experienced, or what obstacles I’ve had to overcome. I know who I am now and she will not be denied.
When did you become comfortable with yourself? I mean, really comfortable. At what point did you accept your name, shape, skin tone, and even your natural hair? Although, I had been natural for quite some time, it was just in the last few years that I began to say, “I’m proud to be natural me.”
I’m finally learning to love me.
In 2002, I made the spontaneous decision to transition from “perm” to natural as a corporate statement. I dared somebody to say something to me about wearing my hair in its natural state so I could “read” them one good time. However, in 2013, I have grown to love my hair as one of many amazing facets of my identity. I am more confident now than I’ve ever been in my life. I only wish that I had gotten to this point sooner. I can just imagine all the drama, tears, and bad decisions I could have avoided if someone had given me the gift of healthy self-esteem as a child. This is why I created the empowering children’s book, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!TM
NOW available on Amazon! http://amzn.to/TI4zIQ
Order a copy, today, for the little ones in your life.
The story is about a little girl who is teased because of the texture of her hair. Her mom explains to her that her hair is a part of her identity and that she is beautiful the way that God created her. By the end of the story this little girl is saying, “I’ve learned to love what I see. I’m proud to be natural me!” Since children learn who they are at such an early age, this story teaches that we are ALL beautiful as is.
I am sooo excited that my book is FINALLY out! The reality is that I can hardly contain my joy because I realize that for once, I had a really big task in front of me—not a go pick up the dry cleaning task, but a lives will be affected if you do this (and lives will be affected if you don’t) kinda task—and I overcame every possible obstacle and got it done! I am so excited because I am walking in my purpose, finally. I love my blog, but this is something different. The manner, the reach, the opportunity to shift a child’s life from mediocre (or less than) to walking in their greatness (as they were created to be) is something totally different.
I know that sounds like a tall order for a picture book, but I see the bigger picture. This book starts the conversation that so many parents overlook. What I realize now, as I raise my little girl, is that you can teach a child to be confident. It’s actually something you instill in them. They don’t just pick it up at school. It’s not just their natural way or personality. The words that we speak to a child, the way that we address them, how we react to their mistakes, and whether or not we celebrate their successes all work together to fill their head with “I am enough” versus “I’ll never measure up.”
A beautiful story of self-acceptance for our little ones.
I am excited about I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!—that many think is about hair care tips for kids, or about race, or that it in some way excludes one race or another (or even members of the same race). The truth of the matter is, even I had the wrong idea when I first started writing it. It was a book “for little brown girls” when I first started “fleshing it out,” but somewhere in the process of writing it, I said to myself, “this message is universal.” I realized that an alabaster-skinned, freckle-faced redhead deals with the same struggles of “fitting in” that a little brown girl with tight curls does. Maybe it’s not the same in depth and history and indoctrination, but the pain of not being accepted is the same. The pain, and joy, and all the other emotions that are core to humanity, connect us all. We all can relate to wondering if our differences make us less, or unworthy, or deserving of isolation. I want children to learn early that our differences and similarities are all beautiful and worthy of celebration—in short, that we are ALL beautiful as is. It is a simple message, but a hugely important one. If we teach our children in preschool that they are amazing, we don’t have to convince them in high school that they are significant.
This is my proactive effort toward eliminating low self-esteem. If you agree with this message, please share this post, and if you are able, purchase a copy of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! for the little one’s in your life. It’s now available on Amazon!
I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is now on Amazon!
Posted in Blog Posts, New Product Alert
Tagged acceptance, children, children's books, Christmas gifts, confidence, development, differences, early childhood, identity, natural, natural hair, parenting, picture books, preschool, self esteem, uniqueness
It’s time to teach our children,
we are ALL beautiful as is.
On Christmas morning, I was inspired to write my second children’s book, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me. It is a story about a little girl who learns to embrace her beauty after being teased by other children because of the texture of her hair. Through a tender conversation with her mother, she realizes that her hair is a part of her identity, and is celebrating that truth by the end of the story.
This book is very important to me as I am raising a beautiful little girl with natural hair. With a master’s in counseling, I know how urgent it is to give her a strong sense of self, especially at this early age. A child’s self-esteem begins to erode very early in life so it is essential to give our children a firm foundation from the start. I’m Proud to Be Natural Me is more than just a children’s story, it is a tool of empowerment for our children. It is an opportunity to teach our kids a lesson that our generation seems to have missed, that we are ALL beautiful as is.
Will you please help me share this message? Please choose one of the links below to “Share” this post with as many people as you can. Purchase this amazing children’s book for your little ones, and loved ones. And proudly wear I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! products, which are available in my online store.
Thank you so much for your support. Together we can heal our world by empowering ourselves and our children. Please don’t forget to click the “Share” buttons below.
*Click here to order I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!
Posted in Blog Posts
Tagged beauty, children's books, confidence, early childhood, empowerment, inspiration, kindergarten, natural hair, preschool, self esteem, self-acceptance
I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is a movement of self-love created by author and designer Marlene Dillon. It’s bigger than a hairstyle or hair texture; it’s about the beliefs that run deep beneath the surface.
I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is not about condemning those who choose to weave, press, “perm” (relax), or flat iron their curls away. Nor is it about deifying those of us who chose to rock our curly locs for life.
I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is about recognizing and accepting that our hair is a part of our identity. It’s about learning to love and appreciate our hair in it’s natural state.
I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is about loving our hair no matter what state it’s in and teaching our children to do the same. It’s about internalizing that no matter how we choose to style, straighten, or color our hair, at the root we are beautiful as is.
NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM! ORDER TODAY!
Posted in Blog Posts
Tagged African-American, beauty, bi-racial, body image, coily, confidence, curly, hair, natural, naturalhair, naturalista, perm, relax, self esteem, straighten