Guided Africa

On beauty, belonging and boundaries…

Hi Comrades,

This is the 2nd issue of A Love Letter, and I want to address something quickly and let it rest. I want to talk about beauty – especially in light of “summer body” propaganda and online peer pressure in general.

From the first issue of The Love Letter, I received a great deal of feedback requesting affirmations. I can’t ignore the feedback, but I have to say I feel some kind of way about it. On the one hand, I know and understand that we are social beings – we find meaning, belonging and a basic sense of ourselves from being with other people. That means that the opinions, teachings and experiences of other people influence us.

On the other hand, I feel concerned about how many people seem to need external validation because they can’t believe their own spirits about who they are and what they deserve. 

You know the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – I mean, I guess… What people behold is their business, especially when it comes to how they behold your beauty. I think beauty is a matter of fact – like one’s height and eye colour. It is just a fact. You’re beautiful. And it doesn’t matter because it is what it is. Don’t even worry about it. You know you don’t need your face or body to be kind, honest or intelligent.

There’s so much wrapped up in society’s ideas of beauty and we have just come to accept that what people say about our faces and bodies means something about who we are, and our value as people. Lies.

Yes your looks matter. Those features are a map of your home. They are a portrait of your people. Your body is your home, and be wary of anything or anyone that makes your home on earth feel unworthy.

Now, I don’t know what to tell you that will make you immediately embrace how you look but first of all, the way you look is the way you look. Go fight your ancestors about it. If you don’t like your stomach, nose, knees or forehead – you should go and stand in front of a mirror and tell your ancestors out loud, that you don’t like the features you inherited because colonised beauty standards, ashy f*boys and the internet told you that your features weren’t beautiful. Not liking the way you feel, however, may be a question of health and you know what you need to do about that.

Yes, it’s your body so do whatever. But, with everything going on in the world, and all the ways you are growing, loving, learning and healing – does it really matter if you’re not living up to someone else’s standards of what constitutes attractiveness? Did you think “yes”? Ok. Draw a boundary right there. 

Draw a boundary right where you begin conflating your looks with your worth. Got it? Easy does it.

Now, you know the part where you start giving yourself that talk about “ya but…english…english…theory…theory..theory” draw another boundary against your own negative self-talk disguised as critical thinking. Draw these boundaries for yourself first, so that you can give yourself permission to draw these boundaries in other parts of your life, and in your relationships. 

Draw these boundaries, negotiate them with yourself as you learn, and then with others. Stand by your boundaries, because no matter what, your looks and your worth as a person are unrelated. 

Creating, maintaining and managing your boundaries as a person is not a one time event. It’s an ongoing dance but sometimes it’s mortal combat. You will take one step forward and three steps back. You may doubt, you may bend and you may break but you have to keep at it. 

The best place to start with boundaries is with yourself – you deciding what you need, learning what you deserve. And what you don’t. 

Please have compassion enough for yourself to believe that because life is hard. You will have a lot of challenges to overcome – your looks don’t have to be another mountain to climb. 

Accepting your looks for what they are means taking one more thing off the patriarchy table where you aren’t even invited, but where your worth as a woman is constantly being negotiated and decided. 

I am talking here about how YOU feel about YOUR looks and how that affects the quality of interactions you permit in your life, AND, what you’ve convinced yourself you need to buy, believe, put up with or pay for in order to feel good about your looks. 

There are so many things we have no control or choice in, but as adults, we do have some choice in what we believe and partake in. Obviously, the things we need and deserve don’t always feel lovely or comfortable even when they are necessary. It’s important to have a grasp on that – between what is necessary yet painful or uncomfortable and what is triggering and uncomfortable to parts of yourself that you need to take a difficult but honest look at. 

Homework

 

  1. Let’s just say you feel or have felt heartbroken or sad because you’ve been rejected by someone who isn’t physically attracted to you. So? Must everybody find you attractive? Are you money?
    • This is a gateway question to help you journal about how you process criticism, or what you perceive as criticism. 
    • One more thing to think about: Do you place a lot of value in being seen as desirable or even likeable and agreeable?
  2. You know you look cute but you struggle to admit it to yourself because you think that makes you vain. Who told you that it’s vain to be self-affirming? Prepare your rebuttal. Write it down. Send your imaginary sheriff. Serve them.
    • Equal opposite: Have you made not being “conventionally attractive” an aspect of your personality? Do you think it makes you somehow better, more intelligent or more real than others? Prepare your argument. Drag yourself.
  3. Unfollow any accounts that make you doubt your beauty. Ok, you can also mute them if you’re too chicken to unfollow. While you are here, do the same with any accounts that make you feel like you’re better than other people.
  4. Look at yourself and identify features that you recognise in your family members. How many generations of ancestors whose body shapes and sizes you have inherited, have prevailed through the perils of history and time? Can you see that they’ve brought you to this exact combination of features? Write a thank you letter to your body and your face. 
  5. Continue with your health journaling from the previous issue. Keep your mind open to consider the physical manifestation of illness but don’t self-diagnose.
  6. Learn about diet culture and the ways it disguises itself.
  7. Hold space for yourself to recognise how eurocentric beauty standards may have screwed you up. Forgive yourself. 

Come back to this homework as often as you need to.

The price we pay for being ourselves is worth it

Eartha Kitt

Here is an affirmation, ke. As requested

On beauty, belonging and boundaries…

Hi Comrades,

This is the 2nd issue of A Love Letter, and I want to address something quickly and let it rest. I want to talk about beauty – especially in light of “summer body” propaganda and online peer pressure in general.

From the first issue of The Love Letter, I received a great deal of feedback requesting affirmations. I can’t ignore the feedback, but I have to say I feel some kind of way about it. On the one hand, I know and understand that we are social beings – we find meaning, belonging and a basic sense of ourselves from being with other people. That means that the opinions, teachings and experiences of other people influence us.

On the other hand, I feel concerned about how many people seem to need external validation because they can’t believe their own spirits about who they are and what they deserve. 

You know the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – I mean, I guess… What people behold is their business, especially when it comes to how they behold your beauty. I think beauty is a matter of fact – like one’s height and eye colour. It is just a fact. You’re beautiful. And it doesn’t matter because it is what it is. Don’t even worry about it. You know you don’t need your face or body to be kind, honest or intelligent.

There’s so much wrapped up in society’s ideas of beauty and we have just come to accept that what people say about our faces and bodies means something about who we are, and our value as people. Lies.

Yes your looks matter. Those features are a map of your home. They are a portrait of your people. Your body is your home, and be wary of anything or anyone that makes your home on earth feel unworthy.

Why you spendin’ all your time tryna break a woman down? Realer shit is goin’ on, baby, take a look around

Lizzo

Now, I don’t know what to tell you that will make you immediately embrace how you look but first of all, the way you look is the way you look. Go fight your ancestors about it. If you don’t like your stomach, nose, knees or forehead – you should go and stand in front of a mirror and tell your ancestors out loud, that you don’t like the features you inherited because colonised beauty standards, ashy f*boys and the internet told you that your features weren’t beautiful. Not liking the way you feel, however, may be a question of health and you know what you need to do about that.

Yes, it’s your body so do whatever. But, with everything going on in the world, and all the ways you are growing, loving, learning and healing – does it really matter if you’re not living up to someone else’s standards of what constitutes attractiveness? Did you think “yes”? Ok. Draw a boundary right there. 

Draw a boundary right where you begin conflating your looks with your worth. Got it? Easy does it.

Now, you know the part where you start giving yourself that talk about “ya but…english…english…theory…theory..theory” draw another boundary against your own negative self-talk disguised as critical thinking. Draw these boundaries for yourself first, so that you can give yourself permission to draw these boundaries in other parts of your life, and in your relationships. 

Draw these boundaries, negotiate them with yourself as you learn, and then with others. Stand by your boundaries, because no matter what, your looks and your worth as a person are unrelated. 

Creating, maintaining and managing your boundaries as a person is not a one time event. It’s an ongoing dance but sometimes it’s mortal combat. You will take one step forward and three steps back. You may doubt, you may bend and you may break but you have to keep at it. 

The best place to start with boundaries is with yourself – you deciding what you need, learning what you deserve. And what you don’t. 

Please have compassion enough for yourself to believe that because life is hard. You will have a lot of challenges to overcome – your looks don’t have to be another mountain to climb. 

Accepting your looks for what they are means taking one more thing off the patriarchy table where you aren’t even invited, but where your worth as a woman is constantly being negotiated and decided. 

I am talking here about how YOU feel about YOUR looks and how that affects the quality of interactions you permit in your life, AND, what you’ve convinced yourself you need to buy, believe, put up with or pay for in order to feel good about your looks. 

There are so many things we have no control or choice in, but as adults, we do have some choice in what we believe and partake in. Obviously, the things we need and deserve don’t always feel lovely or comfortable even when they are necessary. It’s important to have a grasp on that – between what is necessary yet painful or uncomfortable and what is triggering and uncomfortable to parts of yourself that you need to take a difficult but honest look at. 

Homework

  1. Let’s just say you feel or have felt heartbroken or sad because you’ve been rejected by someone who isn’t physically attracted to you. So? Must everybody find you attractive? Are you money? 
  2. You know you look cute but you struggle to admit it to yourself because you think that makes you vain. Who told you that it’s vain to be self-affirming? Prepare your rebuttal. Write it down. Send your imaginary sheriff. Serve them. 
  3. Unfollow any accounts that make you doubt your beauty. Ok, you can also mute them if you’re too chicken to unfollow. While you are here, do the same with any accounts that make you feel like you’re better than other people.
  4. Look at yourself and identify features that you recognise in your family members. How many generations of ancestors whose body shapes and sizes you have inherited, have prevailed through the perils of history and time? Can you see that they’ve brought you to this exact combination of features? Write a thank you letter to your body and your face. 
  5. Continue with your health journaling from the previous issue. Keep your mind open to consider the physical manifestation of illness but don’t self-diagnose.
  6. Learn about diet culture and the ways it disguises itself.
  7. Hold space for yourself to recognise how eurocentric beauty standards may have screwed you up. Forgive yourself. 

Come back to this homework as often as you need to.

The price we pay for being ourselves is worth it

Eartha Kitt

Here is an affirmation, ke. As requested

Receive A Love Letter in your Inbox

Sign up for our newsletter and stay up to date

*