I recently took my braids out, and the long, strenuous process was met by a continuous feeling of less; I felt less beautiful without my hair "done". But why? I started thinking about the mainstream image, not only in the music industry but society as a collective: long hair, straight nose, light skin, etc. But there I was, nappy-head and all, with no braids in. It wasn't a nice feeling to feel, but I felt worse for even comparing myself to such absurd beauty standards to begin with. There are times where I feel down, which is absolutely okay and human, but to ignore my beauty and succumb to ideals (especially ones that aren't in favor of my black features) is unacceptable. I'm not gonna lie, it's not easy telling myself "I'm beautiful" and actually feeling it, so I need to work on loving all of me and the adversities that come with being myself. That way, I can become comfortable enough to have photoshoots or performances with my natural hair without feeling "unkept", "messy", or "less". In the music industry, your look is very important, so in addition to how I perceive myself, the way others perceive me is important as well. My takeaway from that is that people's opinions do matter. Overall, I'm juggling all these factors to find a midpoint in which I am comfortable in my own skin while upholding my image as an artist while gaining approval from others. In this pursuit, I don't want to lose my sense of self or lose my self esteem, so my first step is to love myself just the way I am.