The Sting of Colorism

Growing up I never personally experienced the sting of colorism. I personally believed both dark skin and light skin were beautiful. I always embraced my caramel complexion even at those periods when I was reminded how “ugly” I was. I never knew why I was “ugly” yet somehow I thought if I looked different if my eye wasn’t so lazy maybe I would be pretty.

I didn’t feel the effects of colorism until I had my daughter. She was born to me so beautiful and full of life. When people first saw her it was always she is so light and so pretty. After asking was she mixed with Spanish heritage in which I would reply no most times sometimes I lied and said yes. They would always retort she must look like her father since she looks nothing like you. Often reminding me how ugly I was. He even told people he was drunk when we conceived her. An awful lie. Yes her father is light-skinned with beautiful green eyes. My daughter definitely has his complexion.

It is funny so many believe I am blessed that she is beautiful and has long hair. Which is apart of the reason they think she is mixed. Often I wonder would they think she was so pretty is she was a darker hue. To be honest my baby looks just like me despite her complexion. My daughter is beautiful and I would have love and hugged her even if she was a darker hue. I am determined my daughter will know she is beautiful. Not just because of her light skin and her hair down her back. She is a beautiful child of God no matter her hue. I never want her to apologize for being who she is.

I wrote this inspired by Essence’s article for December 2011 issue. I question all the time my beauty I have struggled with it and here my daughter is accepted with welcome arms and I am in awe of how much she loves herself. I try to search within for love of myself but somehow it gets lost in translation. I know I have to find it in order to keep that love ignited in her. Somehow my fire was extinguished long ago and is on the brink of extinction. Sometimes I feel my caramel skin is beautiful but more often than not I question my beauty.

I often look at my sisters and their various hues and long to be confident like them. Secure in my caramel skin. Love the caramel kisses I often give away. I could never rest on pretty. It was never an option for me. The only absolute was I was smart. Intellect was my greatest attribute. Never ran out of those compliments. Yet, secretly I longed to be pretty often wondered how it felt to be pretty like my chocolate sister Jazz. She more than proved beauty and brains was a powerful thing. She was smart and gorgeous. Men flock to her just on the strength of her outer appearance. I often wished that would happen to me.

I have always been a chameleon always just blended in. Often I go unnoticed unless it comes to wit then I stand out. I cannot comfortably accept a compliment. But let someone compliment my daughter and I ham it up. She is pretty and I tell her so. I linger in my past wishing someone reminded me how beautiful I was like my sis Jazz. Everyone always raved how pretty she was. I write this out of hurt not jealousy. She is the reason I truly believe dark skin is so beautiful. At times it was more celebrated than light or brown skin. My mother is a beautiful shade of dark chocolate. Sometimes I’d wish I was too. At times I forget the struggles of others because I am consumed by their beauty.

I am obsessed with beautiful women. Longing to look like them. I am not content with my caramel complexion as much as I would like others to believe. I just want to be careful with my daughter I want to embrace her beauty as much as her brains. The brains more than anything I don’t need a beautiful bubble. I want to know I don’t love her anymore or any less because of her lighter hue.

Reading that article taught me I am so accepting of others but not of myself. What a sad state of affairs! It is time to learn to love me and all that I come with.

Do you struggle with colorism? Does colorism define you? Share your thoughts below.

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7 thoughts on “The Sting of Colorism

  1. Not necessarily.Though I sometimes think a lighter skin colour would have made me more likeable.Nevertheless,I’ve learnt not to attach too much of my self-worth to those things we see,so that if I don’t “match up” to them then I don’t allow it to bother me.I think I’ll call it, “My Colourless Approach” 🙂

  2. A few wks back while walking home from the local Rite Aid, I had a guy stop his car to talk to me. I was flattered because he held up traffic and I looked a mess. I had on ashy black sweats and just wasn’t on my shit.

    After we exchanged numbers and he called we talked. He revealed that he only wanted to talk to me because of the color of my skin…my light skin. I was like dude seriously? he flat out said yes….what guy doesn’t look good with a light skin gurl on their arm. I was turned off…

    it hurt to know that at that point if I wasn’t lightskin he wouldn’t have approached me…

    I am who I am regardless of my compelxion.

  3. It’s true, and probably because the media portrayed the lighter skinned woman to be more beautiful and acceptable than her darker sista. I recall times during my childhood where nearly every TV show starring black actors and actresses included lighter complexions.

    Nowadays, it doesn’t occur as much, but the effects of the Willie Lynch Letter runs deep in the hearts and minds of our people.

    I remember when I too considered “redbones” as the epitome of beauty. Once I left high school and entered college I stood corrected. Beauty comes in all shades and colors.

    Good read.

  4. This hit so close to home for me. I am the darkest of all of my family and as far back as I could remember I’ve always caught some type of hell because of it. No one wanted to get pass what they saw on the outside to know the person on the inside. I still struggle with letting go of these issues but I am learning that despite what others think, I am more than just the tone of my skin.

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