But what kind of issues and where did they come from? She wrote, “I was a black girl in an all white school in an all white community, never feeling good enough, but always being encouraged by my parents to be bigger, badder and better. And perfect is the standard. That’s an immense amount of pressure to put on a child.”
Union grew up in Omaha, Nebraska with the perspective that blonde women were the “ideal of beauty” and “if I looked nothing like that, then I must be ugly.” Children go through a lot. They have yet to really figure out who they are. In addition to that, they deal with harsh judgement from other kids. Though never mentioning any specific circumstances of tough judgement, she recalled, “I was never really looked upon as being pretty. Every girl wants to hear, ‘You’re a princess,’ and people would be like, ‘You are funny.’ or ‘What a smart girl Gab is!’ I was like, ‘I don’t want to be smart! I want to be pretty!” T
This was soon followed by what some remember as a joyous time in life, but for Union it wasn’t: She began liking boys. Here was the problem: “And in my own town, with me being THE black girl, the white guys weren’t really checking for me in that way. When I got to go to basketball camp and I got be around black boys, I was like cool…until I got dumped…for a light skinned girl.” Union continued, “And then that whole thing started. My hair isn’t straight enough. My nose isn’t pointy enough. My lips are too big. My boobs aren’t big enough. And you start going through all of that. And I realize as I’ve gotten older a lot of issues that I was dealing with at 15, I am still dealing with today.”
We have all heard the phrase “Hollywood is Hell.” What people are referring to is how Hollywood can “swallow” a wholesome individual and spit them back out. When Hollywood is done with them, they can be reduced to less of what they are. The loss that these people feel is because their self-confidence has been taken away. As a famous actress, Union admits, “In the business that I am in now, it is incredibly tough, and to be honest, sometimes it is hard to keep my head above the water, sometimes I feel like I’m drowning.”
So how does Union, who has suffered from self-loathing for so long, deal with it?
Gabrielle Union: “I Was Never Looked Upon As Being Pretty” was originally published on blackdoctor.org