You’re pretty for a dark skin girl – TF?!
Yes, someone said that to me and yes, she was a black, African woman whose skin colour was a shade or two lighter than mine. “You’re pretty for a dark skin girl”, she said, and she meant it as a compliment (I think). What the fuck does that mean? How can you be so fucking ignorant? You’re what is wrong with the world. These and more were some of the things I wanted to scream at her but instead, I smiled and graciously said “thanks, but there are other pretty dark skinned girls”.
Colorism or prejudice based on skin colour is a topic that gets me fired up especially as I’m proud and happy with the colour of my skin. I can’t grasp why anyone would discriminate against another because of their skin colour. I love my chocolate skin, not dark enough to be ‘dark chocolate’ and not light enough to be ‘milk chocolate’ but dark all the same. When I see dark skin, all I see is beauty. It baffles me that not everyone sees what I see. Do you see what I see?
I grew up in a Nigerian family, the darkest of three kids. I never felt ashamed or uncomfortable in my skin, my mum would call me “my blackie”, as a form of endearment. And in a way, I loved it because it made me feel like I was special. I don’t recall ever particularly having a problem with my skin colour except once or twice during my teenage years when I was fascinated by and contemplated using skin lightening creams. I remember back then that words like “you’re getting lighter” was perceived by me and those in my social circles as a compliment. “Oh really?” people would say with false modesty and excitement in their voices. As if being told that was the same as being told that you’re beautiful or that you have flawless skin. But I guess ‘light skin’ means beautiful to many people.
It’s not that I don’t think light skin is beautiful but it is not the only type of beauty. Why is our society so fixated on skin colour though? The sad reality is that the preference for lighter skin isn’t just within the African community, it is also in the Asian community. Colorism is a deep rooted issue in India, which has a multimillion dollar spend on lightening creams. Like, why?! I always say that the preference for light skin in our society is thanks to slavery. People have been ‘whitewashed’ into thinking the closer to white, the better. We have been told for so long that we are not good enough unless we have lighter/white skin. We’ve been made to feel that our coarse coily hair, our dark skin, our full lips, our flat nose just aren’t good enough because it does not subscribe to the western ideal of beauty. Over time we begin to believe the lies that we are not good enough unless we look like man’s warped idea of beauty.
I’ve heard some pretty ignorant comments in my life; “I only date light skinned girls”. “I want to have light skinned babies”. “Dark skinned women are ugly”. While I can’t change people’s preference, after all, I have a preference for tall men, I can, however, challenge their views on beauty and dark skinned women. Prejudice, ignorance and, or intolerance is not sexy.
Dark skin is beautiful. The colour of your skin is no reason to be discriminated against. You can’t control people’s foolish perceptions but you can change how you react or how it affects you. Sadly, dark skinned women seem to be underrepresented in the media.
We are underrepresented in the makeup and beauty industry as well which makes it difficult to relate and accept ourselves as beautiful because there are so few like us out there. However, I believe change is imminent. The more we shine ‘light’ on these issues, the better equipped we are to address them. Let’s spread love and stop discrimination. The world needs love. The next time someone says some dumb shit about your beautiful melanin skin, just ignore them or ‘school’ them. They are victims of colonialism.
These dark skinned women are 23 of some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. If you think dark skin is ugly, I bet you it’s because you haven’t seen these beauties.
Happy Women’s Day, South Africa! Love the skin you’re in. Rememeber, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
If you or someone you know has been discriminated against because of their skin colour, please share your experience in the comment below. xo
Feature image – Queenkim_Nyakim.