Roshonda Payne is the quintessential black Barbie. Petite. Poised. Perfect.
Yet, once upon a time, Payne hated herself so much that she wanted to take her own life.
“It was difficult. [I was] thinking about suicide a lot,” she tells rolling out. “I wore a mask. I was dying on the inside. But as long as you have that pretty package on the outside, nobody cared what was going on in the inside.”
Payne says her bout with low self-esteem set in early. “My mother was a teenage mom, raising me and my two sisters. When my father left, we were young. There were other things you can look at and say, ‘Maybe this added to it — the abandonment, the rejection, the competition with other kids growing up.’ The kids were very cruel, and bullies bring you down. And that’s what happened to me.”
The young woman dabbled in various glamour industries in an effort to heal herself. She worked as a flight attendant and as a cheerleader for a semi-pro basketball team. She was crowned “Miss Black Illinois, USA” in 1996, and she worked as a commentator for the iconic Ebony Fashion Fair.
“I tried to use those things over the years to build me up and get me to where I am right now. Pageants and commentating really helped me to be well-rounded.”
The glitzy ego boosts, however, would only go so far. If Payne wanted to truly heal, she needed emotional closure.
As fate would have it, Payne’s mother became her pastor, and the two were able to really discuss the past.
“We went through a lot of talk therapy. It was counseling,” Payne explains. “She asked for forgiveness for anything that she could have done better as a young mother. And when a person asks for forgiveness, all you can do is move forward, and that’s where the healing started.”
Today, Payne is spreading the message of strength and inner beauty via her website, The Savvy Sistah, a hub of positivity for women of color.
“I wanted to created an avenue to highlight some women that were on the go, savvy and making an impact in their community,” Payne states. “A Savvy Sistah is confident in herself. She’s well-informed, tech savvy, fashion savvy and media savvy. And she spreads her knowledge to other women.”
The entrepreneur, who has also launched a luxury, all-natural bath and body line, Liquid Lounge, encourages women to take an inventory of the people in their lives and clean house if warranted.
“We have a lot of toxic people around us, and they drain everything that is positive,” Payne warns. “Surround yourself with positive people — people who are on the go, who can empower you and plant some seeds of life.” –zondra hughes