Beauty Looks Like —Jocelyn Bratton-Payne
Meet Jocelyn Bratton-Payne who shares her personal journey to discovering “Beauty looks like ME!”
Over the years I have been thankful to have a family that always told me that I was beautiful and to be proud of my Chocolate Brown Skin! This was coming from a family predominantly made up of members not resembling my hue, but one of fairer skin or with (good hair) as it is described by members in the African American Community if your hair was curly to straight and not kinky or nappy.
My mother’s side of the family is a melting pot of African, Cherokee Indian, and European descent. One may think my family wouldn’t uplift me nor embrace my darker skin and openly tell me how beautiful I am, especially when we come from a society that has been brainwashed to believe the lighter you are the more beautiful you are. Too often society measures beauty by how light or straight your hair is or by how close you resemble a blonde hair blue eyed European woman.
As a young girl growing up I can recall instances where I was met with racism, hatred, and non-acceptance just by the color or my skin. Too often when I crossed paths with individuals from other ethnic backgrounds I was met with the statement, “You’re cute for a Chocolate Girl!” Now when I received this statement my reply was always, “Really, should I view your statement as a compliment?” Personally, I‘ve always viewed this statement as demeaning and offensive. I felt the statement supported societal views as well as views of beauty in the African American community, where one had to be light skin with long hair to be considered as: beautiful, receive societal acceptance, land a good job with career advancement, not be passed over by the man of your dreams, etc.
Thank God I’ve never suffered from low self-esteem, I didn’t battle with forms of self-hatred where I wanted to bleach my skin just to meet societies standards of beauty, or struggle with my self-image because of the color of my skin. I’ve always had a high level of self-confidence, embraced my chocolate brown skin, and never compared myself/beauty to other women.
When I look in the mirror I see my beauty, flaws and all. I’ve always believed in myself and knew that I was cute! I’ve never yearned for the acceptance of others or looked to others to define me. Feeling, embracing, and seeing my inner and outer beauty was instilled in me by my family, especially my mother and grandmother at a young age who are both on the lighter spectrum of skin tones. They instilled a self-value system in me to never concern myself with what another person’s view of me was. I had to love myself first before I could love another. To always hold my head high, walk tall and straight in spite of!
Join Hiz Temple throughout the month of February as we celebrate Black History Month by showcasing beauty through the faces, stories and backgrounds of beautiful African American women. Our goal is to empower and inspire young black and brown girls to have a healthy response to the question “what does beauty look like?”