Telling Dark Skin Women They Are Beautiful is NOT The Answer To Colorism

I’ve written about colorism twice this week (read HERE and HERE), and after reading some of the comments on these posts, I feel compelled to to write this post.

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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.”

Sigh

Let me make this as clear as possible: Beauty is subjective and beauty is shallow. When dark skin women discuss Colorism, it is not meant as an invitation for you or anyone else to then share how beautiful dark skin women are, or how you’ve always loved “chocolate skin.”  We are not food. And frankly, 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.

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I do not need to be told I am beautiful. Children do, perhaps, but most adult dark skin women aren’t hung up on our looks.   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.

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Ultimately, the answer to colorism isn’t just about celebrating beauty, as beauty is subjective and beauty is fleeting. Not every dark skin woman has skin that flecks with gold. We aren’t all  Nubian Goddesses. 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.

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Well Hello! My name is Lisa and you’ve stumbled upon my own little corner of the world. I’m a lipstick-loving, high heel junkie, mom, and wife. When I’m not here bringing you the latest in beauty, fashion, hot topics, and bits and pieces of my life with my family, you can find me over on youtube swatching lipsticks and sharing my latest natural hairstyles. Make sure you also follow me on Instagram and Snapchat under my brand name Lisa A La Mode. I’m a real person. I promise.

Lisa

Well Hello! My name is Lisa and you've stumbled upon my own little corner of the world. I'm a lipstick-loving, high heel junkie, mom, and wife. When I'm not here bringing you the latest in beauty, fashion, hot topics, and bits and pieces of my life with my family, you can find me over on youtube swatching lipsticks and sharing my latest natural hairstyles. Make sure you also follow me on Instagram and Snapchat under my brand name Lisa A La Mode. I'm a real person. I promise.

11 Comments
  1. Your skin is gorgeous and I stand by that. It is in no way meant to trivialize or demean melanin or beauty. It is simply a compliment. As a light skinned woman of color, I recognize, that we all encounter the non-colored standards of beauty. We should strive to embrace the diversity of our diversity.

    1. Hi Ann. I think you misunderstood my post. Please understand this post wasn’t about complements in general. What I am saying is: When a dark skin woman speaks about colorism, we are not talking about beauty or about not feeling beautiful. Colorism isn’t just about beauty, so it is indeed demeaning to simply go to beauty when were are talking about being seen and respected PERIOD. We are multifaceted and mulitalented, and once we get to a certain age we recognize how far being “beautiful” can take you. I,for one, find far more value when folks praise my intellect rather than complementing my exterior. This is not to say i don’t appreciate a complement, it’s fine. but when the conversation is specifically about colorism, folks immediately begin speaking about dark skin as though it’s food, or some foreign object. It all starts to sound like lip-service, and we, as a collective, are tired it. We aren’t unircorns. We’re just like everyone else and we want to be treated and seen just like everyone else.

  2. Thank you for this post! I am a 19 years old and my whole life I have always felt like there was something wrong with being dark skin when in actuality there is nothing wrong with it at all, it is just perceived that way. This post was soul food it really made me feel a lot better I even cried a little bit cause you hit home for me. I am on the road to building confidence in myself and realizing my many talents. Again I genuinely thank you for this post! You have really helped me me!

  3. I agree with you,people gets colorism mixed up with the beauty issue,I personally witnessed this with my dark complexion sisters ,people are so cruel, I’m light but me & my sisters looks just like each other ,but they couldn’t see pass complexions & then my sisters feel something toward me that I didn’t Cause! So I get it!!… But no compliments can take the sting of reality away from us as a Race that plays into the hands of Our Brainwashers!!!

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