Dear Nivea….Dove…. And any other company that seems to be under the impression that my skin is not “clean” or “fair” enough, or suffering from an “uneven tone” compared to those with a distinctly less melaninated nature…
How dare you?
How dare you assume that my skin tone isn’t beautiful?
How dare you suggest that by becoming lighter skinned, I would finally be deemed beautiful?
I didn’t realise that beauty meant conforming to what others think of you, restricting your own self to please other’s expectations.
How dare you perpetuate this.
Seeing Lupita N’yongo for the very first time blew my mind. Here is this incredibly beautiful and intelligent young woman collecting her Academy Award dressed like a black Cinderella. I was so happy for her, I cried. I messaged my mum and we were both SO HAPPY that someone with our skin tone is owning the world with her wisdom and talent. I wrote to Lupita on Facebook of how she is an inspiration and has encouraged me further to be myself and appreciate my beauty.
Here’s a video that sums up what she experienced and, in a way, what I experienced as well:
Don’t get me wrong, there are more and more of us embracing our natural beauty thanks to iconic figures like Lupita. Go on social media and there are TONS of videos on how to embrace who you are. Ted talks galore.
All I can tell is what I’ve experienced and how this shit makes me feel at the end of the day.
I shouldn’t be made to feel inferiour about my damn self or my heritage, hair type, skin colour, gender. Infeiority is not a word in my vocabulary or rooted in my psyche.
To all those companies trying to tell me that my dark skin isn’t good enough?
You’re the ones who need to open your eyes and see just how amazing and wonderful ALL SHADES ARE.
I love myself with every fibre of my being, and I do not appreciate being told that my skin colour does not meet your antiquated European or Caucasian requirements for beauty.
You’re quick to tell me I should straighten my hair but as soon as my afro is out, you marvel in wonder how hair can defy gravity the way mine does…so much so, no amount of back-combing your straight hair can come anywhere close to my glorious fro.
It would seem I have a constant migraine and there isn’t enough ibuprofen in the galaxy to ease it back into submission. I’m thankful though. My blackness is causing headaches in people who I once thought were my friends, due to their own ignorance. I shouldn’t have to constantly be contradicted over who I am or what I stand for. I’m angry about skin bleaching. I’m angry about a lot of things that have affected me. Let me be angry.
Allow me to translate something to you: You telling me that you disagree with my anger, or suggesting I “get over it” and live by this bullshit “normality”?
That translates diresctly into this: You are a person who doesn’t see or chooses not to see the issue that cuases me great pain and frustration (both in my past and today). By telling me to “calm down” or “get over it”, you’re suggesting I just allow this to happen because there is nothing I can do to change it, because according to you, that’s life. According to you, I’m powerless.
According to you, I don’t matter… niether do my opinions or anything I am.
You’re being flippant.
You’re saying my own hurt and experiences don’t matter, therefore I don’t matter.
To you I’m over-reacting.
To you, I’m living up to the stereotype of an angry black woman.
The pain it causes me whenever I see skin bleaching ads/articles/videos/documentaries is one A LOT OF PEOPLE can NEVER quite quantify, and sadly probably never will be able to either.
Growing up, I would search really hard in the toy aisle for dolls that looked like me. And when I did find one, they would have straight hair and only be one of the lighter shades of brown: Not my shade or darker.
Growing up I would see oceans of magazines and TV ads where whenever someone black was featured, again they’d have straight hair, and again they wouldn’t be my shade or darker.
They were always lighter than me and wouldn’t have my epic gravity-defying hair.
Where was my representation?
It soon came in the form of Serena Williams. Yes obviously my beautiful and enigmatic mother did and will always play a vital role here as well, but Serena was and still is a big catalyst for me.
Today, more and more WOC are making a creative and important stand. Some are making diverse children’s toys ranging in skin tones and hair styles that map out just how diverse and unique being black signifies. Instagram is inundated with posts celebrating all of us melaninated goddesses in our range of shades, shapes and sizes, encouraging everyone further to love ourselves, our heritage and our skin.More and more of us are standing up and making a stand, thus effecting change: Afropunk, Black Lives Matter etc. I wholeheartedly wish I was seeing all this beauty and strength from my melanated brothers and sisters happening when I was growing up.
Think about this:
If there was NO “white standard of beauty” being deemed as something you have to aspire to in order to feel/be beautiful or successful…
If there was NO “white standard of beauty” being shoved down our throats with an overwhelming sense of ease, thus making us drown in our own sorrow… do you really think skin bleaching, weaves etc would exist?
I’ll give you a few moments to let that sink in whilst I reapply my cocoa butter to my beautiful brown skin…
This standard of beauty and acceptance is where my anger and frustration lies, therefore contradicting my views with weak comments or suggesting there’s nothing I can do clearly signifies that YOU WANT ME to stay quiet about it. You won’t even acknowledge my own pain.
If my opinions challenge you and make you feel uncomfortable, good.
If you find yourself shuffling in you seat due to a sudden uncomfortableness you weren’t expecting with my words…good.
I will not stay silent in any way, shape or form.
I love my skin
I love my hair
I love being black and I will not be quiet about it either.
As I write this, a song comes to mind that speaks even more volumes now than when it did when I first heard it…
“I will never be what you want and that’s alright, coz my skin ain’t light and my body ain’t tight…. WHO MADE YOU THE CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE?”