4 Reasons Why I learnt To Accept My Dark Skin
Black women are constantly being asked to change who and what they are to fit into mainstream society. I think this often goes for all women of colour. The journey to accepting my skin colour was one that took a while. We live in a world were people are often judged by the way they look, whether they are a bigger, thinner, fare skin, or dark skin; there is always something for someone to say about the way we look. For me, accepting my dark skin came in multiple steps. It was learning to accept who I am and know that it was more than okay to be me.
Here are four main reasons why I have learned to not only accept my skin colour but to love it!
I Can't Be Jessica Simpson And That's More Than Okay: Growing up, Jessica Simpson was all the rage, at least to me. She was on her reality show, and she was fare, with blond hair and she was what everyone thought was beautiful. I remember wanting to be just like her. I would say I had a bit of an obsession with her. One day in grade 7, I was talking to this boy about how much I liked her and I think he realized that I didn't just like her music or T.V show but that I wanted to be just like her. He looked at me right in the eyes and said "Beverly, you know you can never be like her" and when he said that, it took me back. It felt like my whole world was crashing, I mean, I was only 12 years old but it was the first time, I realized that my ideal beauty was not a woman who looked like me but a woman who was the opposite of what I was. Looking back, I realized that there was no Black women on screen for me to look up to or for me to emulate. So in realizing that I couldn't be Jessica, I had to learn to be myself, which was harder than I thought.
My People Told Me Black Wasn't Beautiful: Every dark skinned Black woman will tell you that they have been told that having dark skin is bad or ugly. They have been told not by White people instead it is their family members and other Black people who tell them that they aren't beautiful. I was born in Ghana and growing up there, I was told many times that I was too dark, that I needed to lighten my skin. I was told in Canada by many of my peers that I was too dark and for that reason I was not as pretty as my friends who where Black but had lighter skin tones. I have to say, there is nothing worse than being told that the skin you are born in is ugly and then also being told that you can't be Jessica Simpson, it was a rough year for my 12 year old self.
All kidding aside, one of the biggest issues being a dark skin woman is not our skin colour, but instead it is being told that how we look like is not beautful. These things are told to us not by racist White people, who don't even care about how dark we are because to a racist, Black is Black; these awful things are told to us by our family members and other Black people who have taken on the narrative that some how, dark skin is ugly and disgusting. To me, I had to realize that my skin was beautiful, and one of the main ways I did that was slowly starting to change the narrative in my own head, and retelling myself that my skin was anything but ugly. It took a while until...
My Mother Used Skin Bleaching Creams: I will have to say that my parents never said one negative thing about my skin colour but my mother would use creams to lighten her skin. Skin bleaching creams are a common thing in all Black communities, it is used the same way we use cocoa butter. My mother used skin bleaching cream since she was in her mid twenties. When I was 16, she switched to a different cream that burned off the first couple layers of her skin, particularly her under eye area. For months, and I mean like 5 months, my mom had bad purple and raw skin under eyes. There is nothing worse in this world than seeing someone you love goes through something like that. What I loved about her was in that situation she didn't hide, she woke up every morning and went to work, and people would stare at her and make comments but she decided to go about her day. I have to say that being 16 and seeing first hand what skin bleaching cream does to the skin taught me a valuable lesson in accepting myself and my dark skin. I thought that my mother was so brave that she could go out everyday looking like that and in that moment I made a promise to myself to never touch any cream or product that would lighten my skin. My mother stopped using bleaching creams a year after that, it took about three years for her skin to get back to normal and at each stage of the process, she just got more and more beautiful and I realized the beauty that is my skin. I realized that the skin could heal itself after years of abuse but made the promise to never harm it.
Self-Respect, Self-Love, and Healthy Skin: Seeing my mother go through what she did, finally taught me the valuable lesson in loving the skin I was born in. It taught me to respect myself enough to never harm myself, it taught me to be brave in my skin, to never distort or cover up the beauty and richness of my skin colour. To me it just took my mother's situation to help me accept my skin but I know for so many people out there, the acceptance of the way you look takes time and that's ok! I think it really starts with finding someone in the mainstream media that reflects you and looks like you. This is why a films like Black Panther or Hidden Figures is so important for Black people. I think this can really help you see that you are beautiful. Start to retell and change the stories of being told that you are not good enough or beautiful. You alone can change the narrative and make it positive. Learn from others and listen to their stories. Treat yourself like the queen you are and take care of your skin. Don't put crap that will hurt it, protect your skin and eat well!
In what ways are you learning to accept yourself? Let me know in the comment section!
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