kayla [1 of 2]

I remember when I was around 7, someone commented on my “pot belly”. They then said “Don’t worry – it’s because you’re young! It’ll go away as you get older!”.

It didn’t. At 22, I continue to struggle with a hate for my stomach. Additionally, this summer, I put on a lot of weight to the point where I just felt really, really large. I stopped wearing fitted outfits. I look at photos and instantly notice all the parts of me that appear bigger than they were previously. I hate feeling like this, but one part of me has accepted this is how my body is and while another part acknowledges that if I put in the work, I could look the way I wanted.

Apart from that, as a black woman, my hair journey was incredibly unique, difficult and frustrating. When I was young, my mom would comb out my knots and cornrow-ed my hair– it tugged, hurt and took all night. I was the only one in my class with braids and I hated it. I wanted long, flowy, shiny hair so at just twelve years old, I got my hair relaxed. However, the chemicals weakened and dried out my tresses, so I continued to feel it wasn’t ‘as beautiful’ as my peers. Eventually, I decided to cut most of it off. At half an inch long, I rocked my natural hair and it felt amazing. However, I still felt that I had to compensate for my new appearance with make up and better clothes.

Kayla is from Toronto, Ontario, currently in her final year of her Honours Sociology degree at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario.

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