As a teenage girl I always remembered hearing that dreaded phrase, “You’re pretty for a dark skin girl”. The common compliment clothed in disrespect and shame. Now I know that some meant it as a compliment, but was I supposed to be flattered? In my eyes, it’s just like saying, “You’re Smart to be Black. ” Why couldn’t I just be pretty. The misconception that all dark-skinned girls were ugly and perpetuation of the idea that light is right. If you weren’t light skinned- then the brothers wanted to have nothing to do with you; at least in public.

Growing up in my family, I was always the darkest of my siblings. Now there’s not a doubt that all of my siblings love me, but I would be remiss to not mention at times I did feel like an outcast. Jokes were made here and there; all in fun and no serious damage done. However, my mention of this is just to exploit the nonchalant colorism endured by darker skinned women that still hasn’t been fully strayed away from.

Now society has definitely come a long way. We have seen more acceptance and no obvious discrimination, but there still lies things beneath. Over years and decades we see evidence of this notion that light-skinned is better or more accepted than darker-skinned. We saw this is the music industry. Why were most of black artists who topped the charts of lighter skin? A recent interview with former destiny’s child manager Matthew Knowles shares his research of majorily light skinned artists topping the top 40 airplay during his hey day.

Why after years of knowing data that black people spend more on beauty products (not just hair products) than other races, are we still not represented in the advertising of these products. Your target market is clearly defined but still nothing. Studies show African-American women spend an annual $7.5 billion on cosmetic products, yet it is still hard to find a shade of foundation that caters to my skin tone (see article here) Although there have been individuals who have tried to market makeup brands for African-american women, there was still the problem of getting stores to stock them. Now with the recent release of Fenty beauty by Rihanna, we see that inclusivity is not only ethical but profitable. Fenty generated over $72 million in media value the month after its debut. What shade do you think sold out first? You guessed it, the darkest one!

How many darker skinned professionals do we see in real positions of power? I’ve worked in several different retailers over the span of 20 years, and can count on one hand the amount of black people, not just women, that looked like me making decisions. I found it hard not to think that my skin tone affected how people viewed me. If I spoke up about something I was being “sassy”; where I watched my counterparts express themselves in a similar or sometimes disrespectful manner and be rewarded. After all these years, there’s still the idea that a darker skinned individual is more threatening, rude, and unacceptable.

Now there is the other side. when we talk about the world of fashion, we do see some gestures of inclusion. Brands are making sure to be more inclusive { some who were made aware with backlash from the community} We see us represented in ad campaigns and editorials, but I almost don’t know how excited I am at times. Sometimes I still feel irritated by the fact that now you find the darkest black person to represent the culture. Isn’t this what we’ve always wanted? But it almost feels like is this the only way they see us? Is this what black is? It almost seems forced. It goes from one end of the spectrum, from no inclusion to the other with overcompensation.

Now I may be somewhat bias as a dark-skinned female, but these are strictly my observations and opinions; some backed up by data. I’m glad that Beyonce’s song Brown skin Girl has bought more light to the sensitive subject and will empower little girls and women to see their skin as nothing less than beautiful. But it is up to all of us to support the message.

Now my goal with this post was not to bash or blame, because we all share responsibility including African-Americans. But I hope to continue to shed light on something that remains a prevalent issue. As a mom of a little black girl I want to show her that she is always beautiful and beauty comes by your own standards, not anyone else’s. I have endured comments and discriminations, and blatant disrespect on the sole fact of being darker; but I managed to never let that define who I am. I want to encourage all women reading this no matter what skin tone, hair length, body type, or any other characteristic used to define you, that you are beautiful and accepted.

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2 Comments

  1. Sterling Baltimore
    September 4, 2019 / 6:27 am

    Good article!

    • angela1983
      Author
      September 4, 2019 / 11:16 am

      Thank you Sterling. Glad you enjoyed it!

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