Lakisha Adams tells us how a childhood of perfectionism and people-pleasing almost brought her to a breaking point.
“I think I got into skin positivity because of the way that my Childhood was. I’m 25, and I grew up in Toronto, Canada. I come from a broken family. My parents have been divorced ever since I was six months old. My mom is a nurse and a single mom. She worked 3 jobs and raised 2 kids so there was a lot of pressure put on me.” Lakisha describes how she did not grow up hearing from adults “you can do it.” She continues, “People didn’t expect me to do well and succeed because people had low expectations for me. That made me a people pleaser because I had something to prove. From the way that I spoke to the things that I did, I was a perfectionist.”
Lakisha recalls what those times were like “I grew up in Ajax, a predominately white small suburb outside of Canada. I denied my culture and everything that I was because it was considered ghetto. Sometime later, I moved to a black neighborhood. By that time though, I didn’t even know how to fit in with people who looked like me because I had adapted so heavily to just being around white people. However, I knew I really didn’t fit in with them either. I was black. I had denied my culture, and I became really depressed. I didn’t like who I was, I didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t like the way that I looked. I got into skin positivity because I was searching for a means of self-acceptance. I just wanted to let go of other’s people expectations. I could tell that I wasn’t okay because all of the stress from my perfectionism and my compulsions to meet the expectations of others, black or white, began to show on my skin.”
Lakisha describes how she went through the same realization with her hair. “Growing up, I didn’t accept how my hair looked either. I have 4c, kinky hair. And by the time I was 10, I knew how to add extensions. I never permed my hair, but I used to straighten it. Eventually, my hair would not even curl because of how much I straightened it, and it completely broke off, especially my bangs. I was so heartbroken because it took me so long to grow my hair. I was in denial that my hair was broken. Looking back, it’s so ironic how attached I was to my hair. I didn’t even know what it really looked like. I was just trying to look like my mixed friends and my white friends.”
Because Lakisha was trying to meet the beauty expectations of her friends, her hair was breaking just like her sense of self. “When my hair broke off, I had to start wearing braids, but there were bald spots in the back of my scalp.” From that point, Lakisha knew something was missing and that her life had to change. “I decided to grow my hair naturally and let thrive, and it’s only recently that I’ve actually discovered my real hair pattern and how to take care of it. I just wash it, moisturize it, use my fingers to detangle, twist it up, and then I just let it go free into a halo on top of my head.” Lakisha just lets her hair be now and she says that “it looks and feels so different now. It’s dark and luscious. I think it’s beautiful now, but before I never would have.”
Towards the end of college, Lakisha was making progress with herself, but she still struggled with her skin. “When I was 20, my father passed away, and it hurt because I didn’t even have the chance to have a good relationship with him. I internalized that because I was about to go into my first job, and I needed to focus. Repressing that loss showed on my face, I got a cyst so bad on the side of my face, and it exploded. I put a band-aid on the side of my face for 3 days, and I didn’t go to work because I was ashamed. There weren’t a lot of professionals in my area that knew how to treat African-American skin. Melanin is a protector so if you’re doing all of these peels and these things to your epidermis, it’s much different than when there’s not a lot of melanin. I also didn’t search harder for professional help because I felt like going to a specialist made me a failure. By going, I felt like I was admitting that I didn’t know how to take care of my skin. I felt a mix of panic and denial and launching my channel was an outlet for these feelings. At first, I started talking about makeup, but I didn’t truly own up to what was going on with me, I was being dishonest to my viewers. While I was telling everyone to love their skin, but I didn’t love my skin. That’s when my channel shifted to skincare and skin positivity. I publicized my skin journey because I was confessing something to myself. I was confessing that I couldn’t be perfect.”