Actress and Former Model Joy Bryant has like many of us, struggled to feel beautiful and she wants to remind us that we’re not alone. In a recent moving essay for Refinery 29, Bryant opened up about her quest for self acceptance and her immense need to be told she was pretty.

“No one ever told me I was beautiful when I was a young girl, even though it was all I dreamed about hearing. ‘Joy, you are beautiful,’ the world would sing to me, and everything would be wonderful. Because if I was beautiful, I would be cool, and then people would love me! (Poor baby.)

Little did I know back then that it doesn’t matter what the world sings to you. Most of us are tone deaf anyway, and the world can be off-key.”

She also talked about growing up in the Bronx and not fitting the black and latino standard of beauty because she was skinny.

“I thought everyone looked better than me, dressed better than me, had cooler hair than me, was more “woman” than me. As if I even knew what a woman should be. I just knew I hated me: I was too damn skinny and I wanted to be thicker…I wanted t*****s, a**, flesh. I didn’t want to be no stinkin’ beanpole.”

Bryant went into further detail about her self esteem journey, including anecdotes about attending a mostly white boarding school in New England the pressures of being a model and actress and how self-doubt can stay with you for decades.

The actress also shared that part of her issues with self-esteem stemmed from her rocky relationship with her mother, who “was too busy being pretty to really give a damn about me.”

In the end, with the help of therapy, Bryant admits that is still seeking out a healithier perception of self-worth. But she wants readers to know that our worth cannot be measured by what others think and say — that must come within us.

You can read Joy’s essay in its entirety here.

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