The internet is cheering for an 11-year-old girl named Trinity who shut down her bullies after they made fun of her hair. Proud mom, author and life coach Toshia Shaw shared the awesome story on Twitter.
"My sweet 11yr old was teased in school today by boys because of her hairstyle. She loved it and stood up to them for bullying her," she wrote. "She goes to a predominately white school, but wears locs like me. She said she refuses to allow kids to make her feel bad about her culture."
The bullying incident happened a few days ago at lunch when a bunch of boys sat down beside Trinity for the sole purpose of teasing and taunting her. "They told her she was ugly, her hair was ugly, and that she needed to take it down," Shaw told A Plus. "She said that she told the boys that she liked her hair, and that was all that mattered, that her hairstyle wasn't for them. She said she felt self-conscious throughout the day because they constantly jeered, snickered, talked about, and laughed at her. Upon hearing the story, I just held her tightly and reassured her that she looked beautiful, I told her that the children didn't understand African-inspired hairstyles. My heart sank, but I stood strong and while I held her, I felt her pain. It hurts to know that you can't even send your children to school to learn without bullying being a factor."
Shaw's tweet went viral, garnering over 20,000 likes and retweets and endless praise for Trinity.
Adolescent years are hard enough as it is, with all it's awkward stages and growing pains. But when you are a young Black girl, it can be particularly challenging to maintain confidence in a world that rarely celebrates (and oftentimes shames) your appearance — your natural hair texture, facial features, hairstyles, the color of your skin, and more.
With the media still lacking enough diverse representation, and with beauty standards still being largely euro-centric, it takes a lot of esteem building at home to help children of color tune out the noise. Luckily, Trinity is surrounded by empowering examples of confidence and self-love. "One thing for certain is that I decided to be the example for my daughter where there is none in her school or our environment," Shaw explained to A Plus. "I wanted her to see a strong, African-American woman thriving with high self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love so she could emulate that. I prepare my daughter for not only her school, but the world by telling her that our beauty isn't something that is celebrated, or embraced so we must do it ourselves. I explain that she has a strong and resilient history, and that she should be proud of that."
Trinity understands that she is different from most of her classmates and she recognizes that, although they may not be culturally aware, her identity does not make her any less than anyone else. "She just has different hair and skin color, but that difference is good because it is the way the Creator made her and she cannot, under any circumstances, shrink due to those differences," Shaw said.
"The Creator made her for a purpose and she must love and respect her body the way that it is. I want her to love herself naturally so when she grows up she has the option to change if she so desires, but it won't be because of pressure, or the lack of healthy self-esteem."
The 11-year-old is not only an inspiration for other kids who deal with bullying and discrimination, but also serves as an example for every Black woman who has ever been too afraid, or unable, to stand up for herself. According to her mom, Trinity is even planning to use her Instagram as a platform for anti-bullying advocacy.
As a mom, I want what's best for my daughter, as a woman, I remember being that 11-year-old girl, being bullied for just being myself, but I didn't have the strength or courage to stand up to my bullies the way Trinity did," Shaw said. "So I vowed that if I ever had a daughter, I would instill self-esteem, pride, and courage in her. [...] I become the model for her because I understood it starts in the home first. So, I plaster positive affirmations all over her bathroom mirror and her room. I make positive affirmation YouTube videos, and make her listen to them often. She has even begun to help me write them. She recites positive mantras and that helps a great deal. We sit down and talk where I listen without judging. I make it a comfortable environment for her to open up. I show her examples of strong women in books, articles, and we study the strong women of the past."
Though she enforces confidence and self-love within her daughter, Shaw also makes sure that Trinity understands the realities of the world. She said, "I show her that this world has always been tough, especially for women of color and that it probably always will be; but she has the strength, and support to make it anyway. She knows strength is in her DNA and she believes it."
Cover image via Toshia Shaw / Twitter @Toshia_Shaw