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My name is Yetunde

by Fiona Teddy-Jimoh about a year ago in advice
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"You are beautiful just the way you are."

My name is Yetunde
Photo by Beth Tate on Unsplash

I have short afro hair.

Black elbows and knees.

Wider hips.

Wider nose.

Bigger lips.

Deep brown eyes that cry every night when I come home from school.

They mock my short afro hair and offer me soap to clean my black elbows and knees. They say my hips are too wide, my nose is too wide and kissing my bigger lips would only suck them into a black void as black as my skin.

All I can do is cry and tell them that it’s not my fault that I’m black. I didn’t ask to be born into this race - a race that is always last place on the popularity hierarchy.

My mother always tells me, “Yetunde, you are beautiful just the way you are. Pay no attention to bullies, they are just jealous.”

Except, I am the jealous one.

I envy the long flowy hair that can be styled with such ease.

Eyes of every light and pleasing colour.

Thin frame and white skin that doesn’t blend into dark classrooms and blackboards.

It’s always dark in my life.

Dark skin.

Black heart.

They call me names and the teachers just laugh. Sometimes they say that such names are so old fashioned - the kids of today simply would not know what it means.

It’s endearing, they say.

They are just following music trends, they say. Fashion trends. You’re trendy, they say.

If my mother knew, she would make me switch the schools again.

Instead, I do what I can with the cards I have been dealt with. I spend hours watching hair tutorials and scream in pain when the hair straighteners burn my ears.

I do my chores and spend my allowance on makeup. There is only one shop in the whole city selling foundation that matches my skin tone, and even then, I apply talcum powder to look a bit lighter.

Sometimes, I wear contact lenses from the fancy dress shop. The blue ones are my favourite.

They laugh despite me trying to fit in.

By the end of the day all I feel is shame. I take them off before I get home so my mother doesn’t ask questions. Then time passes and I try to fit in all over again.

Sometimes, I dream about being at school.

I am bullied in exactly the same way that I am bullied in my waking life, but in my dream something magical happens. I open my locker to grab my books and instead I find inside a suspicious package wrapped in brown paper. The corners are wrinkly, and the sticky tape messily holds the edges together.

In my dream I reach into my locker and take out the suspicious package wrapped in brown paper.

I nervously unwrap it and all my troubles melt away.

It’s a mirror - and someone has written on it with a marker pen:

You are beautiful just the way you are.

In my dream I can see my face in the mirror, but I can hardly believe it’s me. I look so, lovely.

Then they start cheering and clapping. They take it in turn to hug me and tell me they are sorry. They ask for forgiveness and beg to be my friend.

They call me by my name.


I wake up with a smile.

Sometimes, before school, I grab a marker pen and write the words from my dream on my bathroom mirror. I stare into the mirror and repeat the words in my head: you are beautiful just the way you are.

I look at my short afro hair.

Black elbows and knees.

Wider hips.

Wider nose.

Bigger lips.

Deep brown eyes that are determined to see my beauty.

My black skin - my identity.

They still mock me relentlessly and the teachers still ignore it. There are no cheers. No clapping. No hugs or sorry. No asking for forgiveness and no begging to be my friend. However, on the days I write on my bathroom mirror and stare at myself, despite all the racism I experience at school, something magical happens. I feel good about myself...

...and that’s a start.


About the author

Fiona Teddy-Jimoh

Finding innovative ways to connect creative writing with technology in order to deliver an immersive digital experience.

My name is Fiona Teddy-Jimoh and welcome to my world.

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