In an interview with her stepmom Gabrielle Union, Zaya Wade opened up about the negative comments she received from people after coming out as trans. The 14-year-old said there was commentary around how she should present herself and she chose to reject that advice.
“As a trans person, once I came out, there was a lot of hateful comments about how I should grow my hair out long or fit into a certain version of femininity, even though that’s not true at all,” she says. “That kind of advice is just trying to break you, but don’t let it.”
In a story earlier this month, we reported that Zaya and Union were taking part in a Dove Self-Esteem Project aimed at encouraging teens to set their own beauty standards and block out toxic beauty advice often shared on social media.
Union chimed in during their most recent conversation for the Project to share her views on beauty and what she and Dwyane Wade try to instill in Zaya at home. In essence, they want her to know inner beauty is what matters the most.
“You can be a ‘stunner’ or ‘classically beautiful person’ but if your soul is rotten, you are not very beautiful at all,” she said. “We try to stress character, compassion, love, acceptance and joy. That hopefully radiates from the inside out. When it comes to how she moves through the world, we try to stress there is no one way to be a woman or to be feminine.”
The actress and mom continued by saying that there’s no “one-size-fits all” approach to beauty, so teens shouldn’t be held to unrealistic beauty standards.
“There are a billion ways to exist because there are billions of people and each person has the ability to decide for themselves how they want to exist in the world and how they want to move through the world,” she added. “We talk to her about resisting anti-Blackness and not centering Eurocentric beauty ideals.”
The campaign encourages other parents to have similar conversations with their kids and remind them to unfollow social media accounts that don’t make them feel good about themselves. Social media can be an overwhelming place for teens, but when parents initiate vulnerable conversations like this, it can make it a safer space for them mentally.
Zaya, urges other girls and teens like her to join her in the campaign and Dove’s #DetoxYourFeed movement.
“We don’t need to follow anyone into feeling unworthy or not beautiful,” she said. “We have the power over our own feeds to remove the content that doesn’t make us feel good and instead flood our feeds with the positivity that we both want to see and put out into the world.”