At times, you meet people you feel you’ve known forever. Something about their warmth, in addition to unassuming confidence and a kind of inner radiance, makes it very easy to slip into a conversation that stretches back into years past. By the end of the coffee and muffin you share at a local coffee shop, you know you were absolutely lucky to meet this person.
This is how we felt on meeting Ebony Collins at a local coffee shop a few weeks ago. We took a picture of her tattoo. We shared coffee, muffins, and stories. Time flew.
Then she sent us this narrative:
“I was asked to write about why I chose the particular phrase, ‘natural beauty,’ for my tattoo. Talking about it will also offer some insight into my world and give a little knowledge about me.
There is no real place to begin, so I’ll begin in the best possible spot. In 2010, I made a life-changing decision. I decided to no longer relax my hair. Relaxing is a chemical process that alters the texture of one’s hair, hence making it straighter and more manageable. I had no previous knowledge about what being natural entailed, so I reached out to a friend. She offered some valuable advice, as well as products, and with that, I began my journey. In the beginning, I transitioned. That is, growing the relaxer out of my hair, as opposed to completely cutting off my hair (the only other alternative).When my hair grew to a length I was comfortable with, I cut the relaxed ends off. Wearing my hair as it grew out of my head gave me the most liberating feeling I could imagine. It also opened doors for me that I hadn’t ever considered before.
Whenever I had questions about a certain style or product, I took to the internet. Just like any other internet search, one topic lead to another, which lead to another search. During one of my searches, I read that certain foods and working out would aid in hair growth as well as improve the overall condition and health of the hair.
That information began to pique my interest about living a healthier lifestyle. I started exercising more, which also lead to my making healthier choices as far as eating. I began to go for walks, not for the exercise benefits but to clear my mind. I discovered that while on my walks, there were many parts of my city and nature that I hadn’t ever seen before and wouldn’t see if I were driving. This excited me. It allowed me to grow closer to nature, God, and to be able to look within myself and see beauty. I’ve battled with depression and low self-esteem for most of my life and I finally feel that I am at a point where I can say I love myself. I still battle with depression but I no longer hate my reflection.
I know I took the long way to explain/convey to you why I chose that phrase. Bear with me, I’m making my point. My tattoo is a reminder, a representation of all that I am surrounded by. At any given moment, I can step outside and see beauty in nature. From seeing a buzzard feeding on road kill to a bunny hopping to its hole, there is beauty in all of it. I get excited when I see an insect I’ve never seen before or pass by a tree with distinct leaves. My tattoo is also a reminder/representation of the love I have for myself. I don’t wear makeup (never have), I wear my natural hair, I’m plus sized, and none of those factors make me any less beautiful. I still have my days where I wake up and go through my day and don’t feel my best. My tattoo is on my shoulder where I can always catch a glimpse of it and be reminded. I am reminded to take a step outside and to take in all that surrounds me, as well as look inward and share all that I am with the world. That is, ‘natural beauty.’”