“You’re pretty for a dark skinned girl.” I’ve been hearing this all of my life. It’s not a compliment. In fact it’s quite insulting, and I’m about tired of it. I didn’t always find this statement to be insulting though. That’s because I didn’t love myself. Let me explain.
Light Skin Was In
I’m going to take you guys back to the 90’s for a minute, to my teen years. Light skin was very much in. If you were light skinned with long, “good” hair, you were automatically considered pretty. It didn’t matter if you had bad skin. Crooked teeth. A boyish figure. If you were light skinned, you were God’s gift to the earth. At least with the boys in my neighborhood. The lighter girls were always their first choice.
Seeing this caused me to be insecure and I had to find ways to compensate for my dark skin. I’ve been doing hair since the age of twelve, so I always made sure that my hair looked nice. My parents kept me fly as long as I kept my grades up, so I was always rocking the latest gear. But whenever I got into arguments or roasts with the light skinned girls, the first thing they would do is call me “blacky”. Or “you’re so black that (insert insult here).” This always hurt my feelings almost to the point of tears. Why? Because I didn’t like my skin. I’ve come to the realization that no matter how nice my hair looked, or how fly my clothes were, inside I felt that I would never be considered as pretty as the light skinned girls.
As I got older and the boys started noticing me, that’s when I started to get the “You’re pretty for a dark skinned girl”. Back then I considered it to be a compliment as I didn’t know any better. The boys were calling me pretty and paying me attention, and that’s all that mattered. It wasn’t until after I had my son that I really started to think about the statement.
Learning to Love Me
I remember this one day when my son was a few weeks old and I wasn’t wearing any makeup since I didn’t have the time to apply it. I had a deep tan, and my skin was a rich mahogany brown just like it gets every Summer. My Nana stared at me for a long time and said “I don’t know why you wear all that foundation on your face girl. You don’t realize how beautiful your skin is? You don’t need it.” I took a long hard look in the mirror and realized that she was right.
All through high school and my early college years I wore caked on foundation that wasn’t quite my color, always a little lighter. I thought even a tad bit lighter would make me prettier. Those simple words from my Nana made me take a step back and take a good look at myself, and helped me to love myself completely, dark skin and all. I’m not pretty for a dark skinned girl, I’m simply pretty.
Black is Beautiful
I realized how beautiful my dark skin is. I started wearing less foundation in shades that actually matched my skin. And even went without makeup more often. I no longer felt inferior to light skinned girls. Being called blacky didn’t hurt my feelings anymore. I no longer gave thanks to the guys that thought it was okay to tell me I’m pretty for a dark skinned girl, I instead challenged them. I’d ask what exactly is that supposed to mean? Am I not supposed to be pretty because my skin is dark? I’ve never really gotten an answer though, just a surprised look that I called them out on it.
To this day men still tell me that I’m pretty for a dark skinned girl and it’s annoying af. I live in a neighborhood with a heavy West Indian population, and the men tend to refer to me as “darky”, as if it’s a compliment. “Aye darky, you’re a beauty gal.” It reminds of the days when I was called blacky to put me down, but these days it doesn’t hurt me at all because I now love the skin that I’m in.
I can’t believe that in 2016 black women are still being divided by our complexion. Enough is enough. Even when it comes down to something as simple as ads for natural hair brands. Lighter skinned women with looser curl patterns are always included front and center, while a dark skinned women with type 4 hair may get thrown in for good measure. Society tends to have strong opinions that dark skinned women can’t wear certain things because of the color of our skin. Take wearing makeup for instance. That lipstick is too bright for your skin, it doesn’t look nice.
I love bright lip colors and wear whatever I like, no matter others opinions. I love to showcase bright lip colors on this blog. To show darker skinned women that these colors look great on us and help them to be more confident in their skin. I love my richly hued melanin, golden brown in the winter, and rich mahogany in the Summer. I love the skin that I’m in and I want my sisters of all complexions to feel the same.
Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior. Love yourself Queen, you’re beautiful!