Tag Archives: self esteem

I Overcame Bullying

1391619_720377891343742_2918921522263846905_nFor some time now, I’ve wanted to address bullying. As I host workshops, I always meet students/children, who are being bullied and teased, and it makes me feel that I must do something to add to awareness. In my girls’ mentoring workshops, I teach young ladies how their words affect each other and teach them how to communicate in healthy and effective ways. Today, in honor of World Day of Bullying Prevention, I am sharing the story of an amazing young lady, who was bullied and has overcome it. In her story, you will hear how teasing—what some call “just kids being kids”—can have lasting and potentially dangerous effects.

stephanie Hi my name is Stephanie, I am 18 years old and currently working at Meijer. Yes, I have unfortunately been bullied before. It happened all through junior high and slowly ended in high school. This always happened at school, either in class or at lunch in the café. I still to this day do not know why I was the bully target. I was the sweetest girl ever. I was very shy. Just for some reason the kids decided to target me.

Overcoming this was very difficult for me. My family was always there for me, though. I would also seek help from counseling services. I would tell my teachers and principal all the time, and their reply to that was “oh they are just being kids.”

 “people will not always be nice. They do not always care about you or the situation you are going through.” 
I have overcome it all for the most part now. I still worry about people bullying me to this day to be honest. I did learn that people will not always be nice. They do not always care about you or the situation you are going through. My mom always told me when people are mean to you then that means it makes them feel good about themselves. I find it so wrong!
I feel this has made me better as a person because not only did I live with being bullied, I can also talk to others who get bullied and give them advice. If only they knew how bad my feelings hurt. if only they knew every day after school I would go home and just cry… Cutting and crying seemed to ease the pain and words away. They had no clue how bad words hurt. The mean words I was called about cost me my life.
 “bullying is so painful, but you can be strong enough to not let it get you down.”
I want other kids who are being bullied/parents of kids being bullied to know you have to stay strong. Think about the bright future ahead of you. Please do not ever try to commit suicide. Think about all of those who love you. Yes, bullying is so painful, but you can be strong enough to not let it get you down.
Update: Stephanie was being bullied when she was 12 and 13 years old. When I asked about how she is doing now, this was her response.
“I just graduated high school and I go to college, and would like to be a nurse. I am doing great! Every now and then I get low self esteem because the words “fat”, “ugly”, and “stupid” will always be in my mind…. But I do my best to keep my chin held high and keep my beautiful smile on my face.”
 ________________________________________________________
Thank you Stephanie for sharing your story. So many people don’t realize how hurtful teasing can be, nor the lasting effects. I hope through your story and others, parents and children will learn that bullying is not a laughing matter.

Even My Scars Are Perfect

It is a blessing to be loved… an even greater blessing to be loved as is. I have the most amazing friend who taught me the most valuable lesson of self-acceptance. See, I have this scar on my foot… it almost appears to be like a bunion (gross, I know) and it bothers me. I look at it… stare at it.. hating it, EVERY DAY, several times a day. Whenever I wear sandals, I hope by some act of God or the alignment of the Sun and the planets, he will not notice this disgusting, discolored, blemish on my skin. I know, it’s such a silly thing, but it really bothers me. After all, I have always prided myself in having the most beautiful feet. I even remember a time when a guy I was dating in college, looked down at my feet one day and referenced a scene from the movie Boomerang, (where Eddie Murphy inspects his date’s feet to see if they are beautiful, or not). After taking a gander at my feet, he pretended to wipe imaginary sweat from his brow, with a “Whew!” like he was happy to have dodged the pretty-girl-ugly-feet bullet. lol

"Hammertime Feet" scene from Eddie Murphy's movie Boomerang

Anyway, my point is, I have always adored how perfect my feet are—no corns, all in proper height order, and definitely no blemishes. Well, that is no longer the case. And this new truth has brought me much frustration. I have done homemade sugar scrubs, rubbed my feet with lemons, Bio Oil and everything under the sun to return my feet to the beauty they once knew. However, today, I finally got to understand why with all my efforts, the blemish has remained. There is a lesson in my scar that I need to grasp.

A few years ago, I was living in “poverty” in a sense. I had no money, no income, and no real home of my own. We were staying in a transition house in Georgia, where a very kind lady offered temporary housing in her home to couples and singles who needed to get on their feet. While living there, I only had two pairs of shoes and one pair of flip-flops. The shoes I had were very uncomfortable, but I still wore them everyday because I didn’t have a choice. And the continuous rubbing of those shoes against the joint of my big toe formed a large dark scar. Yesterday, as I was talking with my friend, I shared with him that although I am generally pretty confident about my appearance, the blemish on my foot is something I am very insecure about. His response was both shocking and hilarious. He texted, “You are such an IDIOT!!!!! Your imperfections are perfect.” His words completely caught me off guard. His acceptance of the thing I attempted to hide from him constantly, his total acceptance of me “flaws and all,” helped me to see how silly something like that really is. I mean how many guys (worth my time) are going to look down and say, “Dang. You were the perfect catch ’til I saw that dark mark on your foot.” lol It’s silly, but we do this to ourselves. We pick a random unique trait and make it bad.

Follow Garcelle on Instagram. She posts and is doing amazing things!

So let’s fast forward to today. Spending time together, he discovered something that very few people know about me. I have two auburn strands of hair. My natural hair color is black and has never been colored, yet I have always had two strands of red hair. He saw them today, I guess because the light hit them in a new way. He was so fascinated, tugging gently at them to see how long they are. I, of course, begged him to “be careful” and not accidentally yank them out. I told him that they are “two cool, unique things I like about myself.” He smiled at me, and sounding like Sherlock Holmes, sarcastically replied, “Ah… an imperfection.” I rolled my eyes…

When I thought about his comment later, I said to myself, “What does he expect me to do, look at this thing on my foot like it’s my cool, unique, thing?” Then I thought, “Hey. That’s not such a bad idea. What if instead of secretly hating my right foot for not being perfect, I choose to look at this blemish from now on as an awesome imperfection?” I could  practice what I preach and … drum roll please… accept myself “as is.” This “blemish” can forever (or at least ’til I find the right fade cream) serve to remind me of where I’ve been. When I look down and see the callous, I will remember that I am a survivor, that no matter how challenging things may be at the present moment, they are nothing compared to being homeless. Having only thirty dollars in my account now, pales in comparison to cutting receiving blankets into triangles so my baby could have diapers. Having only a quarter of a tank now, is not the same as running out of gas while driving uphill in GA, and having the gas station attendant take $2 out of their own pocket to buy enough to get us home, since I had already spent our literal last penny the day before. Our “scars” in life help us to remember times we’ve overcome. Maybe you have some scars that up ’til now have caused you much pain when you look at them. I challenge you to give your scars a new, empowering meaning.  When I look down at that blemish, I will now remember that every state of life is temporary and the rough times don’t last always. Even my imperfections have a purpose… and so do yours!

 

Marlene Dillon is the author of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! a children’s book that promotes healthy self-esteem, by teaching that “we are ALL beautiful as is.” Order your autographed copy here, today!

Your Inner Critic is Your Frenemy

A good friend of mine called me out, today. Told me that I am WAY too hard on myself. That I am definitely my “biggest critic.” And I was half listening, and half letting it go out the other ear, until these words were spoken, “You would never even let someone like that be cool with you.”

And I thought about it. That’s true. I don’t let negative people in my inner circle. You can be as cool as hell is hot, but if you are a Debbie Downer, Negative Nancy (no offense Nancy ), or one who constantly criticizes others, we will never be close. That’s just a MAJOR turnoff for me.

innercritic

So it seems really… messed up…. that the character flaw I won’t allow in my inner circle, is residing… within ME! I have come to a horrible discovery. I just realized that the person I listen to the most is my FRENEMY. That’s simply unacceptable. It’s full on Crazy Town! I have to do something about this. So, I decided she has to die. lbvs

So I’m breaking up my inner critic. She’s not my friend. She doesn’t deserve all the time and attention she gets. She has no right to even speak to me. She’s mean. She doesn’t even like me. She never has anything nice to say. No matter what I do right, she always points out the one thing I did wrong!

So it’s over between us. I know she’s not gonna go nicely so….. I’m gonna attempt to starve her to death. She loves attention, so I’m not gonna give her any. When I catch myself listening to her, I’m just gonna stop her mid-sentence, and tell her how awesome I am, and maybe even remind her of what I’ve done RIGHT! Eventually her voice won’t be the loudest one I in my head. Eventually, thoughts of my awesomeness will overshadow her criticism. Eventually, she’ll be nothing more than a faint whisper in the background of my thoughts. The voice I question, rather than automatically accept as truth.

** Our inner critics will likely never stop talking, and that’s actually a good thing, if we train ourselves to listen for the tips on how we can better prepare and fine tune our life strategies. #Proud2B #NaturalMe http://improudtobenaturalme.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!

Naturally Confident—A Movement of Self-love

I am sooo excited that my book is FINALLY out! 😀  The reality is that I can hardly contain my joy because I realize that for once, I had a really big task in front of me—not a go pick up the dry cleaning task, but a lives will be affected if you do this (and lives will be affected if you don’t) kinda task—and I overcame every possible obstacle and got it done! I am so excited because I am walking in my purpose, finally. I love my blog, but this is something different. The manner, the reach, the opportunity to shift a child’s life from mediocre (or less than) to walking in their greatness (as they were created to be) is something totally different.

I know that sounds like a tall order for a picture book, but I see the bigger picture. This book starts the conversation that so many parents overlook. What I realize now, as I raise my little girl, is that you can teach a child to be confident. It’s actually something you instill in them. They don’t just pick it up at school. It’s not just their natural way or personality. The words that we speak to a child, the way that we address them, how we react to their mistakes, and whether or not we celebrate their successes all work together to fill their head with “I am enough” versus “I’ll never measure up.”

A beautiful story of self-acceptance for our little ones.

I am excited about I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!—that many think is about hair care tips for kids, or about race, or that it in some way excludes one race or another (or even members of the same race). The truth of the matter is, even I had the wrong idea when I first started writing it. It was a book “for little brown girls” when I first started “fleshing it out,” but somewhere in the process of writing it, I said to myself, “this message is universal.” I realized that an alabaster-skinned, freckle-faced redhead deals with the same struggles of “fitting in” that a little brown girl with tight curls does. Maybe it’s not the same in depth and history and indoctrination, but the pain of not being accepted is the same. The pain, and joy, and all the other emotions that are core to humanity, connect us all. We all can relate to wondering if our differences make us less, or unworthy, or deserving of isolation. I want children to learn early that our differences and similarities are all beautiful and worthy of celebration—in short, that we are ALL beautiful as is. It is a simple message, but a hugely important one. If we teach our children in preschool that they are amazing, we don’t have to convince them in high school that they are significant.

This is my proactive effort toward eliminating low self-esteem. If you agree with this message, please share this post, and if you are able, purchase a copy of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! for the little one’s in your life. It’s now available on Amazon! 🙂

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is now on Amazon!

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!

What Is I’m Proud to Be Natural Me?

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is a movement of self-love created by author and designer Marlene Dillon. It’s bigger than a hairstyle or hair texture; it’s about the beliefs that run deep beneath the surface.

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is not about condemning those who choose to weave, press, “perm” (relax), or flat iron their curls away. Nor is it about deifying those of us who chose to rock our curly locs for life.

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is about recognizing and accepting that our hair is a part of our identity. It’s about learning to love and appreciate our hair in it’s natural state. 

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is about loving our hair no matter what state it’s in and teaching our children to do the same. It’s about internalizing that no matter how we choose to style, straighten, or color our hair, at the root we are beautiful as is.

NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM! ORDER TODAY!