How I learned to love my afro hair: I went from tolerating it to enjoying it

Growing up mixed race in Ireland, I longed for sleek, straight locks, and spent years having treatments that burned my scalp. That horrifies me now I remember being 13 and sleeping over at a friends house. I use the term friend loosely because, years later, I realised that most of these girls were never really my friends. Making her bed in the morning, my host reached down and plucked something from the pillow. Ugh, ugh, ugh! Gross! she shrieked. OMG! What is it? we all yelled. Eugh! There are pubes in my bed. Ugh, gross. No, hang on, its just Emmas hair. Cue squeals of laughter. I wanted to die. The sensation was sharpened by the disparity between my own …

I used makeup to appear lighter until I redefined black beauty for myself

I followed YouTube makeup tutorials to feel more feminine but saw the errors of my ways Colorism is more than being called a cockroach, having guys compare my nether regions to a medium rare steak, or seeing my crush preferring lighter-skinned women over me. No, it goes deeper than that. Colorism has programmed me to view myself as everything but beautiful, or even a woman. Masculinity, ugliness and undesirability are traits that I have identified with since early adolescence. I was a tomboy, and being a dark-skinned black girl only added another layer to any discomfort I had regarding my appearance. As a young teen, I was never comfortable wearing anything too feminine or skin-revealing. Hoodies, jeans, and sneakers were …