By: Tia Miller
Growing up in today’s society, I, like many of others realized at a young age that the world’s standard of beauty was centered on euro-centric features & qualities. This standard of beauty excludes most black women and usually consists of white women with pale skin, straightened hair, small noses, and small waists. When black women are used to represent beauty they are also usually consistent with this euro-centric beauty standard. This leaves dark skinned black women at the bottom of the ladder. Not only are you seen as less than because you’re black but, by being dark skinned you’re the least cherished by the world and sadly even your own race.
Growing up as a Light skinned black girl, I realized at a young age that I was a part of the group of black women whose features were accepted, praised, and cherished. I would listen as people around me would say they love black girls only for them to go back on their words and say they only meant the light skinned ones.
They would make comments about how unattractive and undesirable dark-skinned women were. Constantly hearing these things convinced me that it was the truth. When I looked around I only saw light skinned black women with long straightened hair, and small waists being praised in the media so the only thought in my mind was;
“This is what the world wants to see and this is what they cherish and love when it comes to black women.”
I didn’t think anything else could be beautiful, to me that’s what beauty really was. It couldn’t possibly be found within a non-light skinned woman.
These views soon began to shape the way I lived my life. I would cringe when during the summer time, people would make comments like “Tia you are getting so dark”.Comments like theses gave me all the motivation to do everything I could do to maintain my light skin tone that was so cherished. I soon began Hiding from the Sun as if it was my job.
If I was asked to go to the beach when the sun was out I would decline with no hesitation. Going outside required me find the perfect hat to match my outfit because there was no way I’d let the sun touch any part of my face. Hiding from the sun and maintaining my skin tone was something I worked hard for and took pride in.
I saw that in the eyes of the world anything darker than my skin tone was an unwanted curse. To be dark skin was nothing on my “Christmas list”. I was happy to feel like my skin was loved which it was, so every compliment on my skin tone meant something to me and every time I saw people slander darker girls my confidence would get a little boost to know that I was still at the top of the spectrum.
My light skinned status gave me all the attention from guys that I could ask for. With every light skinned “compliment” I received from them my eyes would light up and my heart would melt. Light skinned girls are known as the “girls who don’t text back” and “evil girls” among many other things so when someone would say something like “you’re so nice for a light skinned girl” I would feel as though I was on top of the world. I did so much to break the stereotypes of the light skinned black girl.
I tried impressing boys by shaming other women. I would make fun of their bodies by calling them too fat or skinny, or make fun of their skin tone and tell them that boys would not like them because they were too dark. My insults were not just limited to dark skin girls, I would insult light skinned girls as well by telling them that no one liked ugly light skinned girls and that they needed to live up to a certain beauty standard.
I would excuse the rude sexual comments made boys, like
“I would do anything to see that light body naked”,
“Light skin girls give the best head, let’s try it out”.
Just to gain their trust and admiration
In the back of my mind I knew all of these things were wrong but I only wanted to be accepted and wanted by boys so I would just laugh it all off.
I continued avoiding the sun and shaming other women until about three years ago when I came across a dark skinned black woman who was absolutely in love with her dark skin and being a woman. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why or how she could love herself with her particular skin tone. That was until we talked and she and explained it all to me.
She explained that dark skin might be hated by many but not by all and that to find beauty in being black was one of the most amazing things a black woman could do for herself.
I thought about that discussion for days, then I came across some unique twitter pages like @myblackmatters, who celebrated black women and black people. I was intrigued to see that there were people who loved both light and dark skin and celebrated both equally. Slowly I became one of those people and it’s been one of the greatest things to happen to me.
Today, as a young black woman who loves all people no matter what features they have, I would like to tell all young black women; light skin, brown skin and dark skin that they should love themselves and the others around them. I constantly tell other black girls to not accept the “you are pretty for a dark girl” “compliments” and to not listen to the “you are not a very pretty for light skin girl”. Stay away from these things they love to tell you are compliments, they are anything but that. Every shade of black is beautiful, every black feature you hold is beautiful and you should never think otherwise. I love my blackness and I now love yours too.