Not exactly sure what she meant at the time, but I never forgot those words and I carried them with me. The older I got, the more they made sense. She wasn’t at all trying to promote shallow ideas, but she was speaking the reality. I recalled all the models, singers and actresses I grew up admiring. As a young girl with pencil legs and chest flatter than a pancake, I wasn’t drawn to certain celebrities and Disney princess because of their talent or good works—not initially, at least. I was drawn because they represented “pretty” and that’s what I wanted to be, what all little girls want to be. I imitated them, whether it was trying to sing “A Whole New World” in sync with Princess Jasmine or perfect my runway walk like Tyra’s by balancing and strutting on the arms of the couch. When these ladies spoke, I listened. When they acted, I watched. I took it all in, as much as I could.
Years later, when I finally made my way to an HBCU and served as university queen, I remembered what initially sparked the interest to do so. After I’d won, I reminisced on the days I’d take the family’s EBONY magazine into my room and look at all the gorgeous HBCU queens in their towering crowns. I didn’t know that they were also academic achievers and community volunteers, and I can’t honestly say that I cared at that moment. In my young eyes, they were just beautiful. That childhood memory made Mom’s words all the more real. I intentionally kept them in the forefront of my mind so that they would guide my behaviors. I wasn’t perfect, but I tried my hardest to speak and act in a way that would be appropriate for all the little girls in the community who awed at my crown.
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Whether you’re the cute teen in church whose solos send chills up the congregation’s spine, or the college beauty queen, or the grad student who still turns heads in sweats and crocs, or the international icon gracing the cover of magazines, make sure that when you speak, you have something worth saying. Little girls under you are paying extra attention to every move you make because you’re a representation of what they want to be. There’s a responsibility with every gift and beauty is no exception. You’re a role model by default so carry yourself accordingly. Follow me on Twitter: @VerityReign
Who were your favorite icons growing up? Do you think that young girls subconsciously admire other girls and women who they perceive as “pretty”? Do you think that physical appearance can be an advantage when trying to make your voice heard?
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