Navigating beauty and self-care as a black woman by Des’ree Isibor

Posted by Monica Nagowska on

I grew up in a household with four amazing black women - my mum and three sisters. As a young, eager-eyed girl, I watched how they took care of their skin, hair, and appearance with visits to inexpensive salons, hand-sewn dresses, and the extra attention to beauty when we had special occasions. Through the eyes of my 13-year old teenage self, beauty meant wearing big loops, lots of lipgloss, and my hair styled differently every two weeks. 

The term “self-care” wasn’t explicitly mentioned to me as a child. As a family, we de-stressed by watching TV shows together and going on outdoor adventures. Growing up in Nigeria, I equated self-care with the physical part of my body, like maintaining hygiene. 

As a young adult, my perceptions of beauty and self-care are different and nuanced. Here are three main redefining realities that have guided my journey of self-care and beauty as a black woman.

  • Inward beauty > Outward beauty: Who doesn’t want to look good? Looking good means more confidence, right? I thought the answer to that would always be a solid ‘YES’! But that isn’t always the case.  While we behold beauty physically, I prioritize inward beauty laced with character and charisma to portray the best version of myself. When I am confident and fearless on the inside, I glow differently on the outside.

  • Beauty comes in different shades and styles: There shouldn’t be one defined image of how beauty should appear. I have had to unlearn the Western standards of beauty and embrace my cultural beauty standards. More importantly, I have realized that beauty looks different at each phase of my life -  as a young girl, teenager, young lady, and someday a mother and granny. So, I remain open to exploring new styles yet keeping my sense of fashion and beauty 100% authentic.

  • Self-care involves body and mind: I love that mental health is now being talked about and prioritized in our world. Beyond my body, I have learned to declutter my mind and acknowledge when I don’t feel good emotionally. I am also intentional about cleansing my living space with fresh scents and vibrant colors.

    Des’ree Isibor

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