Tag Archives: empowerment

Enough! What Are We Teaching Our Girls?

I heard a commercial on the radio the other day. It started out sounding so empowering and encouraging. A nice young woman began by saying something like, “Do you struggle with insecurities and low self-esteem? Do you sometimes feel bad about yourself?” My ears instantly perked up. I was so excited that my favorite topic, healthy self-esteem, was finally being addressed—that someone was bold enough to advertise and advocate for self-confidence right there on the radio! I eagerly awaited the name of some tremendous life coach or a mentoring program for girls. I just knew something great was coming. And then she said, “Have you considered breast implants?” I could not believe it. I was in shock. Then she went on to sell the wonderful sense of empowerment that comes from breast augmentation. Then, the plastic surgeon came on to really drive the message home.

AM I ENOUGH?

I’ll be honest, it hurt my heart to hear them use ones deep feelings of insecurity—their deep-seated belief of, “I am not enough,” to sell breast implants. Imagine a young lady who is struggling with her sense of self-worth, hearing this commercial, opening herself up in anticipation of a solution to her insecurities, only to be offered another reason to look in the mirror and wonder to herself, “Am I enough?” 

What are we teaching our daughters? How will she know she is enough?

Of course, from a business perspective, I get it. The radio stations need advertising dollars so they’ll air the commercial. And I have a bachelor’s in advertising so I know that the plastic surgeon’s ad agency did an amazing job of getting to the core issue that will, no doubt, lead to A LOT of consultation appointments… But my heart still hurts.

It is hard for me as a mother of a beautiful little girl, who is beginning to notice differences between herself and those around her. She is at that point where meanings are placed on those differences. I can’t help but think, “My daughter could have been in the car when that commercial came on.” And what would I have said to her to combat that message? I mean, we listen to that station every day, and the way that the commercial started, I was eagerly expecting something good and empowering. I would have totally let it play to “see” what was coming next.

What new belief could I have possibly introduced to my daughter’s impressionable mind? Without thought, I could have unintentionally poisoned my daughter’s self-concept, and left her questioning if she is enough. What about all the preteen girls… and high school girls… and college girls… and even adult women who will hear that commercial and actually begin to believe (if they don’t already) that bigger boobs will be the cure for their low self-esteem?

YOU ARE ENOUGH

For me it’s always more about the message than anything. Despite my outrage, I am not completely against plastic surgery. Honestly, someone dear to me has breast implants and I totally supported her decision. She chose to have her surgery based purely on a fact, not on a hope.  She did not have some unrealistic belief that if she had the surgery, she would feel better about herself. She already felt great about herself. She is far from insecure and purely wanted bigger…. ones. This is why I was able to freely and honestly support her.

What I don’t support, is selling plastic surgery, or fake hair, or tanning, or bleaching, or contouring, etc. as a cure for low self-esteem. I’m an advocate for first learning to love the skin that you’re in. Because no amount of surgery will help a person to feel that she is enough. If that underlying belief is not cut away first, and replaced with “I am enough,” she can nip this and tuck that until she is grossly deformed and will still never feel beautiful. And ultimately isn’t that what it’s all about?

Marisa Peer is an internationally known therapist whose work I’ve come across recently. She teaches that looking at yourself in the mirror while repeating the affirmation, “I am enough,” can have a tremendously healing effect on one’s self-concept. I recently added my own version of this exercise in my S.I.S.T.A.TM Girls’ Empowerment Workshops. One young lady came back to talk to me after our session and told me that was her favorite part. In my workshops, I have the girls affirm each other, then affirm themselves. It is such a powerful time. I really get to see how uncomfortable it is for some of them to accept the attention and the words, “You are enough.” So, of course, I’ll keep doing it until they are comfortable saying it and hearing it.

Blessings!

If you would like Author Marlene Dillon to visit your institution, please shoot us an email at events@improudtobenaturalme.com!

Natural Hair Kids Book Download

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! $1 DOWNLOAD!

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! has helped numerous children to love and embrace themselves as is. This book is an amazing tool for parents to prompt discussions about natural beauty and diversity.

DOWNLOAD NOW For only $1! 

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Great news for natural hair kids and parents! Now, you can download I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! for ONLY $1!

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is an empowering children’s book, written by a mom, to teach children that “we are ALL beautiful as is.” Check out the FAQs below to learn more!

Q. What is the target age/audience for this book? 

A. Although, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is a picture book, its message of healthy self-esteem and powerful affirmation, make it a valuable resource for older children, as well. Children with naturally curly hair tend to identify well with the images, but the message is not exclusive to one group or another. 

Q. Why are you offering a $1 download? 

A. An inexpensive download is a great way to give back. So many families are dealing with financial challenges. It allows parents to view the entire book before purchasing. Also, utilizing the social media links below parents can easily share this offer with their friends and family members!  

Q. Are you “natural,” and what does that even mean?

A. Yes. I am “natural.” I stopped chemically straightening my hair in 2002. I have embraced my naturally curly hair and teach my daughter to do the same. 

Q. My child doesn’t have curly hair or brown skin, will she enjoy this book?

A. Yes. The message of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is that “we are ALL beautiful as is.” The intention is to teach children that all our diverse traits are beautiful, which is a message that anyone, regardless of skin tone or hair texture can identify with.

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This beautiful girl is 10 years old. She told me she is going to read her book every morning before school because she is teased daily for being “natural.”

“There are so many children hurting because they do not love themselves. Many are teased at school for wearing their hair in natural styles, and many others have low self-esteem because they ‘look different’ from their family members, neighbors, and classmates. It is my hope that with this really inexpensive download, more parents will utilize this awesome resource and tell their friends, family, and parent groups to visit and download a copy, as well.” —Marlene Dillon, Author 

DOWNLOAD NOW!

Want a preview? Check out the trailer on the right sidebar.

A $10 Value! Download NOW for JUST $1!

The Necessity of Returning Natural

Time to practice what we preach.
How do you teach your child to be proud of their natural hair and your hair is blown straight? How can you expect your child to rock a twist out, or afro, at 9 years old—an age where her ability to “fit in” may define her self-worth for the rest of her life—and she is being sent a mixed message at home? You tell your baby girl every day, “Don’t worry about what they say. You have to love your natural hair,” but you are wearing a 3 foot silky straight weave as your “protective style.”
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Our children learn more from what we do than from what we say. They are little lawyers constantly looking for evidence to support what we claim is the truth. Don’t believe me? Try reprimanding your child with a smile on your face and see how effective it is. They watch us to see if we truly mean the words we speak. I cannot fully tell my child to believe in herself when it is evident that I do not believe in myself. I cannot tell her to love her hair and it is obvious to her that I am ashamed of mine, or see it as my casual style, but not appropriate for “dressy” occasions.

Have you seen the news story by WPTV News that speaks about the reasons many Black women are “going natural?” I truly commend Rochelle Ritchie for publicly addressing this topic and the huge commitment she made. This video really stirred me because it speaks of a mother with straightened hair who was raising her beautiful daughter with natural hair. She spoke of how her daughter was being teased at school every day and wanted to have hair like her mom’s. At some point, this loving mom was touched by her child’s pain and made a decision that I wish more moms would consider. She decided do the “big chop” in support of her child and began to wear her hair naturally!

We have to teach our kids by example, and they need to know that they are beautiful as is. We can speak it all we want but we are not showing it if our go-to style is always silky straight. They know better; they know when we don’t believe what we say. I want more for my daughter than that. And I want more for your children, as well. That’s why wrote I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!

Let’s lead by example: drop the weaves and lace fronts. Those styles are destroying more than just our hairlines; they are killing our children’s self-esteem. Let’s commit to loving ourselves openly before our children. If we don’t teach them, who will?

Marlene Dillon, author of I'm Proud to Be Natural Me! Available on Amazon.

Marlene Dillon is the author of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! a beautiful picture book that teaches children to embrace their natural beauty. It is her passion to empower children and their parents with the message that “we are ALL beautiful as is.”  I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is available on Amazon, click this link to visit the site. For bookings and to order books for your store, please email improudtobenaturalme@yahoo.com.

Giving Back

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! author Marlene Dillon, is looking to host empowerment workshops in schools, community, and religious institutions.

Last year, I did a workshop at a public school in Chicago. It was my first time doing one of that sort and honestly I was very nervous. I sat in my car all the way “down to the wire” contemplating never booking myself to “do something like this ever again.” Truth is, I have one of these panic moments before every single event I do, whether it’s vending, a workshop, book signing, or even just a networking event. The terror of wondering if I am prepared enough and the unknown of what the experience will honestly look like is unnerving for me. The thing that gets me out my car is my purpose and the belief that this is bigger than me—the knowledge that there is some young person, or parent, that I am to touch… and they are inside waiting for me.

Order this tee today at www.zazzle.com/naturalme

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! teaches that we are ALL beautiful as is.

Last night I watched a video on Facebook that touched my life. It was so powerful to see these girls tell their stories of how close they came to giving up, and how many times they tried, and how they now believe in themselves and found something to live for. I thought about the fourth grade girls I spoke to and how their beliefs changed in that room, in that short time I was with them. They learned the power of their words and how it is our duty to uplift our sisters and not tear them down. They learned that they are beautiful, each and every one of them. They learned how to build their self-confidence and to love themselves… lessons many of us still don’t have fully in adulthood. I saw my impact as the girls began to apologize to each other voluntarily, one after the other. “I’m sorry I called you ‘black'” and “I’m sorry I didn’t sit with you at lunch.” It was so powerful.

Honestly, I had NO IDEA that it would turn into that. I just wanted to teach them a little bit about self-esteem, but hearing them one after another speak on what they felt was beautiful about themselves was so awesome. I always recall the powerful moment at the end of my workshop when this beautiful dark chocolate girl said, “I used to believe I was ugly, but now I know I am beautiful.” It hit me in the car, it hit me weeks later, it hit me all over again right now, in this moment, I have a voice to give these girls a voice. I want to touch more lives in this way. It is my purpose, and greatest desire, to impact lives for positive change on a grand scale. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that my words, my time, my effort helped to change the course of a child’s life in some small or large way.

I am reaching out to you because I would like more opportunities to speak in a similar manner at schools and community organizations. This is part of my purpose—a VERY large part. If you would like to host a workshop at your institution, please contact me at improudtobenaturalme@yahoo.com.

Thank you.