I was born skin golden brown
hair thick and frizzy.
I used to think these were things to overcome.
I’d do everything to hide my curly hair
put it under bandanas and scarves.
comb it a hundred times to try and make it straight
cut it, pull it out, twist it into ringlets,
ringlets are better than frizz, aren’t they?
pray somehow I’d wake up and it would be straight and easy to brush.
As for my skin, I didn’t change it, but sometimes it felt a burden.
Some people said, ‘You are so lucky you don’t need to tan.’
‘You have to work harder at school people will judge you by it,’ said my Dad who had seen so much prejudice and wanted to protect me.
I learnt that some people judge you by the colour of your skin & some don’t.
They accept you for who you are.
I learnt about ‘internal colonisation’
& read The Colour Purple.
A mother of a friend combed my frizzy hair.
She said ‘it’s so beautiful.’
I never forgot what she said.
It had more power than any unkindness after that.
Here I am now,
my skin has psoriasis
& it’s not just golden brown but full of pink patches that itch.
I have no control,
try everything to get rid of it
& people tell me everything they’ve heard to get rid of it
I listen patiently
I’ve heard it all before
but nothing cures it,
I wish it would.
I keep trying,
live in hope of managing it better,
have learnt detachment gives strength.
My hair is curly still,
it has white strands wound through dark curls.
I smile, laugh, write
no matter what my hair or skin are doing,
or changing into.
I have learnt I am not the sum of my external being
but a collection of experiences, including inner ones, moulding me into
My obstacles were a way of thinking
& that I can control.
By June Perkins