This is Hana

I was wired to believe that in order to achieve beauty, I needed to straighten my natural curls, cake my face with makeup, be as fit as a photoshopped model, and finally, receive validation from the attention of men. I was brainwashed. Societal beautification norms had robbed me of my confidence- I wanted it back.

As a teenager, I subconsciously based my beauty off of my romantic relationships or lack thereof. Lets just say that it was close to non-existent. I knew there was nothing wrong with it, but I still dreaded always being the single girl of my friend groups. When asked why I wasn't in a relationship, I always shrugged it off with "I'm a picky person," or "My schedule is too busy- I have no time." I would fight back the urge to say that I didn’t think anyone was interested. I felt pathetic admitting it.

Instead, I threw myself into my busy schedule of academics, leadership, performing, and volunteer. I thought that if I can’t be beautiful, at least I could be successful. Yet, no matter how hard I worked in these areas of my life, I still thought I needed a boy to be completely happy. So I continued to pick at my physical appearances. I cursed my natural hair, my bulked-up dancer legs and my imperfect skin; I lacked self-confidence.

Sometimes it takes an important figure in your life to finally get through and convince you that you are enough; for me, it was Beyoncé. My friends laugh at how strongly I idolize her, but I will never apologize. They see an artist, but I see confidence. I was wired to believe that in order to achieve beauty, I needed to straighten my natural curls, cake my face with makeup, be as fit as a photoshopped model, and finally, receive validation from the attention of men. I was brainwashed. Societal beautification norms had robbed me of my confidence- I wanted it back.

My beauty would not be contingent on another person’s opinion, a relationship status or a clothing size. I restructured my definition of beauty to value self-confidence and respect for both men and women. It was never my looks that I needed to change, but my mentality. 

So, with a little inspiration from Yoncé, I learned to be unapologetically proud of whom I am.

I am sassy.

I am confident.

I am ambitious.

I am beautiful.

-Hana Joi Decolongon

Taylor Hui