Tag Archives: empowerment

The Necessity of Returning Natural

Time to practice what we preach.
How do you teach your child to be proud of their natural hair and your hair is blown straight? How can you expect your child to rock a twist out, or afro, at 9 years old—an age where her ability to “fit in” may define her self-worth for the rest of her life—and she is being sent a mixed message at home? You tell your baby girl every day, “Don’t worry about what they say. You have to love your natural hair,” but you are wearing a 3 foot silky straight weave as your “protective style.”
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Our children learn more from what we do than from what we say. They are little lawyers constantly looking for evidence to support what we claim is the truth. Don’t believe me? Try reprimanding your child with a smile on your face and see how effective it is. They watch us to see if we truly mean the words we speak. I cannot fully tell my child to believe in herself when it is evident that I do not believe in myself. I cannot tell her to love her hair and it is obvious to her that I am ashamed of mine, or see it as my casual style, but not appropriate for “dressy” occasions.

Have you seen the news story by WPTV News that speaks about the reasons many Black women are “going natural?” I truly commend Rochelle Ritchie for publicly addressing this topic and the huge commitment she made. This video really stirred me because it speaks of a mother with straightened hair who was raising her beautiful daughter with natural hair. She spoke of how her daughter was being teased at school every day and wanted to have hair like her mom’s. At some point, this loving mom was touched by her child’s pain and made a decision that I wish more moms would consider. She decided do the “big chop” in support of her child and began to wear her hair naturally!

We have to teach our kids by example, and they need to know that they are beautiful as is. We can speak it all we want but we are not showing it if our go-to style is always silky straight. They know better; they know when we don’t believe what we say. I want more for my daughter than that. And I want more for your children, as well. That’s why wrote I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!

Let’s lead by example: drop the weaves and lace fronts. Those styles are destroying more than just our hairlines; they are killing our children’s self-esteem. Let’s commit to loving ourselves openly before our children. If we don’t teach them, who will?

Marlene Dillon, author of I'm Proud to Be Natural Me! Available on Amazon.

Marlene Dillon is the author of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! a beautiful picture book that teaches children to embrace their natural beauty. It is her passion to empower children and their parents with the message that “we are ALL beautiful as is.”  I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is available on Amazon, click this link to visit the site. For bookings and to order books for your store, please email improudtobenaturalme@yahoo.com.

Amazon Review of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!

“This book is great for children of ANY color whose parents/teachers dare to teach them the beauty in diversity. My daughter is 3 and already aware of words/concepts such as ‘hair’ and ‘princess’ and what makes someone “pretty” and worthy of praise and acceptance. This book was right on time as I divert her attention beyond what is seen on television and in books that feature girls who rarely look like her. It is soooo important for books like this to exist to illustrate non-traditional, yet very real and true messages. Too often African-American girls are taught they have “bad” hair and their goal in life has to be to at least LOOK like they have “good” hair if they weren’t born with a certain texture. Rarely are they presented with the truth that all hair is good and that includes every texture. I imagine this issue crosses color lines and this book could also lend itself to promoting the beauty in being born brunette, blonde, red, curly, straight, etc. Applause, applause to the author Marlene Dillon for having the courage and dedication to write and illustrate this book!”

                                  — T. Battle

Giving Back

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! author Marlene Dillon, is looking to host empowerment workshops in schools, community, and religious institutions.

Last year, I did a workshop at a public school in Chicago. It was my first time doing one of that sort and honestly I was very nervous. I sat in my car all the way “down to the wire” contemplating never booking myself to “do something like this ever again.” Truth is, I have one of these panic moments before every single event I do, whether it’s vending, a workshop, book signing, or even just a networking event. The terror of wondering if I am prepared enough and the unknown of what the experience will honestly look like is unnerving for me. The thing that gets me out my car is my purpose and the belief that this is bigger than me—the knowledge that there is some young person, or parent, that I am to touch… and they are inside waiting for me.

Order this tee today at www.zazzle.com/naturalme

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! teaches that we are ALL beautiful as is.

Last night I watched a video on Facebook that touched my life. It was so powerful to see these girls tell their stories of how close they came to giving up, and how many times they tried, and how they now believe in themselves and found something to live for. I thought about the fourth grade girls I spoke to and how their beliefs changed in that room, in that short time I was with them. They learned the power of their words and how it is our duty to uplift our sisters and not tear them down. They learned that they are beautiful, each and every one of them. They learned how to build their self-confidence and to love themselves… lessons many of us still don’t have fully in adulthood. I saw my impact as the girls began to apologize to each other voluntarily, one after the other. “I’m sorry I called you ‘black'” and “I’m sorry I didn’t sit with you at lunch.” It was so powerful.

Honestly, I had NO IDEA that it would turn into that. I just wanted to teach them a little bit about self-esteem, but hearing them one after another speak on what they felt was beautiful about themselves was so awesome. I always recall the powerful moment at the end of my workshop when this beautiful dark chocolate girl said, “I used to believe I was ugly, but now I know I am beautiful.” It hit me in the car, it hit me weeks later, it hit me all over again right now, in this moment, I have a voice to give these girls a voice. I want to touch more lives in this way. It is my purpose, and greatest desire, to impact lives for positive change on a grand scale. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that my words, my time, my effort helped to change the course of a child’s life in some small or large way.

I am reaching out to you because I would like more opportunities to speak in a similar manner at schools and community organizations. This is part of my purpose—a VERY large part. If you would like to host a workshop at your institution, please contact me at improudtobenaturalme@yahoo.com.

Thank you.

I Believe in My Book

“I want to spend the rest of my life loving my daughter and inspiring others. That is what I was created to do.” —Marlene Dillon

 If I see a sad cashier at Target, I’m in her line trying to encourage her. If I see a little girl with curly hair, I have to stop and give her a book. Empowering others is not just what I do, it’s who I am. I wrote I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! to give children an opportunity to learn that they are beautiful as is. Many parents don’t think to teach their children to be confident in themselves. It doesn’t happen automatically. My book is an amazing tool for starting that conversation.

I am very proud of the work I’ve done with little to no money, and I know I could have a much greater impact, if I had the resources. I wrote, illustrated and self-published I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! with no money in my pocket and my little girl sleeping across my lap. I am recently separated, sleeping in my parents’ basement, but the message is so necessary, and there’s no more time to waste—children need to know who they are and parents need to know how what we say and do impacts their self-worth. My book has provided me an awesome platform to hold workshops at public libraries, speak in schools and meet the most amazing people at networking events. Thanks to my current job as a teacher’s assistant, I have been able to purchase books (25 or so at a time) to present at fairs and various events. Although, the lack of funds has caused me to turn down numerous opportunities to share my message, I continue to share, network, and speak where I can.
I believe in my book. For all the children who require their parents to read I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! to them every night, for the little 4th grade girl I spoke to in a classroom who said, “I used to believe I was ugly, but now I know I’m beautiful,” for the child who’s likely never seen someone who looks like her on the cover of one of her books, and for the countless times parents have come up to me at events thanking me for writing it, I know it is necessary. I know it is a message that needs to be shared. And I know I cannot do it by myself.  As I sit here with tear-filled eyes desiring so desperately for the resources to reach more children, to visit other states,speak and hold workshops, and even to continue to give books to those who can’t afford it, I ask how you will you help me accomplish my dream? You can share, you can give, you can ask others who you know have the resources and would love to support what I’m doing to read this for themselves. However you can help, I ask you to because this is bigger than me. This is bigger than a single mom who wants to give her daughter her own room and a puppy. This is about the lives I was created to affect for positive change. I cannot do it without your help. Will you please give a $5 donation to my FundRazr and tell others of the work I’m doing? Please give and share, there is a link below.

Thank you for your time and thank you in advance for your support.

With much love and inspiration,

Marlene

Here’s the link to my FundRazr: http://fnd.us/c/2MCJ3/sh/6waf0

Next Event: Children’s Empowerment Workshop, Saturday, Dec. 21, 11—2, Woodson Regional Library (Chicago)

Check out my new promo video and please share below!

Why I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!?

NOW ON AMAZON! Order today!

It’s time to teach our children,
we are ALL beautiful as is.

On Christmas morning, I was inspired to write my second children’s book, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me. It is a story about a little girl who learns to embrace her beauty after being teased by other children because of the texture of her hair. Through a tender conversation with her mother, she realizes that her hair is a part of her identity, and is celebrating that truth by the end of the story.

This book is very important to me as I am raising a beautiful little girl with natural hair. With a master’s in counseling, I know how urgent it is to give her a strong sense of self, especially at this early age. A child’s self-esteem begins to erode very early in life so it is essential to give our children a firm foundation from the start. I’m Proud to Be Natural Me is more than just a children’s story, it is a tool of empowerment for our children. It is an opportunity to teach our kids a lesson that our generation seems to have missed, that we are ALL beautiful as is.

Will you please help me share this message? Please choose one of the links below to “Share” this post with as many people as you can. Purchase this amazing children’s book for your little ones, and loved ones. And proudly wear I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! products, which are available in my online store.  

Thank you so much for your support. Together we can heal our world by empowering ourselves and our children. Please don’t forget to click the “Share” buttons below.

Yours Truly,

Marlene Dillon

*Click here to order I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!