I’m not going to dive into the history of colorism, but if you want to learn a thing or two about it click HERE. What I will do is discuss the responses I’ve gotten to the posts I’ve shared. They go a little something like this:
- “Why are dark skin girls always making a thing of this?”
- “I’m sorry your mother never taught you to love yourself. It starts at home
- “When I was younger I wished I had dark skin. Dark skin is beautiful”
- “You are so beautiful. I’m sorry you felt that way.”
- “I love my chocolate skin, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve always loved it.”
- “I have two chocolate grand-babies and they are the cutest ever.”
While all of those comments are positive, and we appreciate them, beauty or perceived beauty doesn’t mean anything in our day-to-day lives. In short, talk is cheap.
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If you trusted social media, you might presume that dark skin has always been celebrated. The number of “melanin”-themed t-shirts and hashtags go up by the day, but real-talk? All of that is fluff. One of the reasons I’ve taken several steps back from creating beauty-themed videos on Youtube is because I’ve found that in order for a woman who looks like me to get a fraction of the views and opportunities, I would have to be damn near exceptional. I would have to be the Lupita or the Naomi Campbell of Youtube. Who can be bothered? Not me. And I’m not blaming it on beauty companies or white people (entirely). I’m blaming some of it on us. When it comes to beauty, there exists a standard to which many brown women aspire. They want looser curls and lighter skin. Rather than watch and support the women who look like them, they watch women with features and hair that is not like their own.
Feel free to count me amongst the guilty because I sure did find myself watching Mahogany Curls and Taren Guy videos when my hair was longer. Whether or not we want to admit it, somewhere during the course of our lives how we view ourselves begins to get screwed up by how society views us. And this isn’t an issue of “lack of self-love” or not having been taught to love ourselves at home. Most parents aren’t running around teaching their dark skin daughters that they are ugly. We do love ourselves. It is the outside world that tells dark skin women that they are less valuable than their lighter skinned counterparts, and that is the issue.
I think children with dark skin need to be validated. In a world where being racially ambiguous is celebrated, I think it is imperative that girls and boys who possess traditional subsaharan African features know that they are beautiful, too. Lord knows that when I was a girl I felt like nothing standing next to my girls who had fair skin, green eyes, and hair down their backs. They never had a shortage of boyfriends, and they, of course, always had prom dates. Yours truly, however, had to beg some random to take her to prom, and watched all my friends and their high school boyfriends from the sidelines.
But I’m beyond all of that now. I’m a woman of a certain age and I’ve been through enough now to not be so hung up on my looks. I’m also happily married and secure in that department. The truth is, I just don’t think we dark skin adults need that sort of lip service. Make no mistake, it’s nice to have society say positive things about women who look like me, but saying it and then making sure we are treated and seen just as much as our fair-skinned sisters are two entirely different things. Indeed, we aren’t fighting for people to tell us we are pretty (while it’s nice), What we rail against is society’s insistence that dark skin is not acceptable, and that we don’t deserve to be seen and heard just as much as other women. That we are so downtrodden, that when one Lupita is hailed as the most glorious dark skin woman on earth, we should all bow down in gratitude. Make no mistake, I love me some Lupita; however, folks act like she’s the second-coming for dark skin women.
Ultimately, the answer to colorism isn’t just about celebrating beauty. We are more than our looks, and that’s what we want the world to celebrate. Normalizing dark skin, for me, is one of the primary ways we can combat colorism. Telling me I’m beautiful or have the most beautiful skin you’ve ever seen simply trivializes an issue that goes beyond beauty.
If you like my hair, check out how I created this style below:
What do you think might be the answer to combating colorism in our community? Share your thoughts below!