BRANDON ESPY

Four powerful women and one amazing little girl share why self-love is so important no matter how visible our differences. Next, model and creator of 'Black Girl Beautiful' Nikia Phoenix shares why she believes you should never have to pick and choose parts of you to love.

Nykia Spradley
Dec, 16, 2016

Name: Nikia Phoenix

Age: 36

Location: Los Angeles

Occupation: Model and creator of Black Girl Beautiful

On celebrating beauty…

It's what's underneath your skin. It's the depth of your soul. Beauty is the compassion you show others even when you may not be feeling your best. Beauty is more of an energy than an aesthetic.

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On shaking off the critics…

Kids used to pick on me when I barely had a sprinkle on my face. They treated me as if I had a disease, and nothing could change their minds. They feared and teased me. Outside my family, I felt alienated. I must tell myself every day that I am beautiful and own that truth or else I will turn back into being that scared child I once was.

On self-acceptance and embracing our differences…

I don't hide my freckles—what you see is what you get. My mom and I talked about our journeys to self-acceptance, and I think she realized that she still had some healing to do, because she witnessed me going through the same ridicule she'd experienced. We are almost mirror images of each other, so this process of self-love is more like group therapy.

Black woman, you are a blessing. Own your truth and declare your own beauty. You don't have to pick and choose which parts of you to love. Love every single microscopic dot of you just as you are right now.

See more "Eye of the Beholder" stories in the January 2017 issue of ESSENCE!