I didn’t realise how common this subject matter was; you’re pretty for a dark skin girl until I googled it. Turns out I’m not the only dark skin woman who has been told this.
The irony of my situation is that these words were spoken by a woman just like me. A black, African woman for that matter.
“You’re pretty for a dark skin girl”, she said, and she meant it as a compliment – I think.
What do you mean? I probably should have asked. Given her the opportunity to explain her idiotic comment. 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.
I grew up in a Nigerian family, the darkest of three children. I never felt ashamed or uncomfortable in my skin, my mum would call me “my blackie”, as a term 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 some people.
It’s not that I don’t think light/fair skin is beautiful but it is not the only type of beauty
Why is our society so fixated on skin colour anyway?
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 often think that the preference for light skin in our society is no thanks to slavery. People have been ‘whitewashed’ into thinking the closer to white you are, the better. We have been told for so long that we are not good enough unless we are fair-skinned.
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 myself – I can, however, challenge their views on beauty. Prejudice, ignorance and, or intolerance is not cool.
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 – no pun intended.
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 need to be emancipated from mental slavery as dear old Bob would say.
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. Remember that 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. Who knows, it may give people cause to think before they speak.
Feature image – Queenkim_Nyakim.