Life at 14 is already hard enough. Dealing with your changing body and trying to determine where you fit in are just a few challenges teens face. When you factor in Instagram filters, unrealistic beauty influencers and unregulated social media comments with every photo posted, the teenage years become that much harder — a fact that Zaya Wade can personally attest to as a transgender 14-year-old. Fortunately for Zaya, her stepmother Gabrielle Union and father Dwyane Wade have some really strong insight when it comes to embracing her own beauty.
In an interview with People magazine to promote The Dove Self-Esteem Project — a campaign that encourages the unfollowing of toxic social media influence — Union revealed the incredible words of wisdom she and Wade impart to their daughter. “You can be a ‘stunner’ or ‘classically beautiful person’ but if your soul is rotten, you are not very beautiful at all,” Union told People. Instead, Union and Wade make focus on (and build up) the inner-beauty within Zaya. “We try to stress character, compassion, love, acceptance and joy. That hopefully radiates from the inside out.”
Since Zaya is transgender, Union encourages her stepdaughter to embraces her own version of what it means to be female — and not anyone else’s. “When it comes to how she moves through the world, we try to stress there is no one way to be a woman or to be feminine,” Union says. As a stepmom, Union also makes it a point to have conversations around what Zaya should steer clear of when identifying beauty standards. “We talk to her about resisting anti-Blackness and not centering Eurocentric beauty ideals,” she says.
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