There are only so many celebrities who serve as true role models, inspiring us with stories of their tough journey on overcoming issues of body image, self-esteem etc. One such hero is our very amazing, very dope Gabrielle Union. And she proved this with her speech at Friday's Step Up Inspiration Awards 2016.
Gabrielle Union and husband Dwayne Wade at the Step Up Inspiration Awards. Source: JustJared
The Bring It On actress talked frankly about her struggling with self-esteem issues and blaming herself for everything bad that has happened to her — including a sexual assault when she was 19. Although her fierce image on-screen, the actress had always grown up with the belief that she was weak.
"Along with being the chip in the cookie at a very young age came the advice from my parents which was, 'You are going to have to be bigger, badder, better just to be considered equal,'" the actress said during the ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. "This is very accurate advice, but what it does to the self-esteem of a small child is to say that you are always going to not be good enough. So, I started internalizing that, and the narrative that was playing in my head my whole life from the time I was a very young person was, 'You're a joke, and you are a loser. Anything bad that happens to you is because you are a joke and a loser.' Anytime some guy did not return my love, it was because I am a joke and a loser. When I got raped at 19 at my after-school job, it wasn't just some awful coincidence. It was because I was a joke and a loser. When I got divorced, I'm a joke and a loser, of course. My show gets canceled — I am a joke and a loser."
The actress revealed about the extreme measures she took to not look “too black”.
"I wanted to make sure my hair was so straight, so I would leave relaxers on my hair for so long that I would get lesions because I wanted to fit in. And I had to make sure I always got those 'You're so articulate' compliments."
Yesterday was such a special day surrounded by so much love and support and I was blessed to be given the award by one of my bffs @essence_says (check out her new show on NBC next fall with @marlonwayans !!!) And I got to catch up with my twin @garcelle ... Thank you for such an inspirational day #StepUp
So what stopped her with all these extremities? Her friends!
"My friends said to me, 'You've got to replace that voice in your head that's telling you [that] you are a joke and a loser. You've got to stop being crippled by a fear of possible humiliation.' And so that day I decided to stop telling myself I was a joke and a loser but that I was dope and fly and amazing.”
"I am a wife, but that does not define me," she continued. "I am an actress, and that sure as hell does not define me. I am a parent, [and] while awesome, that is not my whole life. None of those things, even though I get a lot of praise for that, makes me worthy. I am worthy by birthright. I am Gabrielle Union."