You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl

https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/dark-skinned

Dark-skinned

Growing up my beauty and skin complexion was heavily celebrated, especially by my Dad. As far back as I can remember, he was the first person who ever told me that I and my Dark skin was beautiful. On a regular basis, he would proudly proclaim in his raspy Jamaican accent yuh Black and pretty just like yuh Mumma’ or my personal favourite, Mi likkle Black Beauty’.

Whenever he would shower me with praises about my skin, you would always catch me with a face full of smiles. My mum too and as I grew in age, I became heavily accustomed to both their praises. After a while, I started mimicking my parents by showing love and appreciation to my skin all by myself. I guess you could say that their mission to teach me how to love my dark skin was accomplished. My confidence and self-esteem were built off the back of this and at four years old, I became comfortable in the skin that I was in.

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Inevitably, I soon came to learn that although my skin complexion was celebrated at home, it was not desirable by some on the outside. Racism is just one horrific example of this and sadly in 2018, darker skin being seen as ugly or less attractive is still a thing. My parents did not sugar coat anything for me though. I was bluntly told to expect this and possibly discrimination because of my dark skin complexion.

As harsh as this was my parents had every right to prepare me for what I might be faced with out there in the world. But I was reminded that no matter what people thought about my dark skin or said, I still had to love myself. Looking back now, I find it very heartbreaking that my parents even had to sit me down to tell me something like that. Sadly, even with the prior warning, this was something that I certainly was not ready for. So it was not surprising that I found myself swimming in a pool of confusion at 13 years old when I got my first ever real taste of colourism.

Colourism is where an individual is discriminated against or treated differently based on their skin colour. Those who take part in colourism usually value lighter skinned people more than those with darker skin.

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No matter how many times I heard my parents share their own experiences of colourism nothing really could compare to my own. The incident occurred right after I moved to from Brixton to Streatham. Two boys from my new area did not waste time in letting it be known to everyone exactly what they thought of me.  “She is pretty for a dark-skinned ting but dark-skinned tings are just not our thing”. EXCUSE ME? First of all, I did not know that I had even auditioned to be somebody’s dark-skinned ting.

So the unnecessary feedback truly caught me by surprise. It was very cheeky. I did not take it as a compliment and I certainly never took it to heart. But I was slightly embarrassed only because I felt like I had been singled out because of my darker skin. Now they may have said that I was pretty but that was beside the point, I felt very insulted. One of my younger neighbours clearly must have read the embarrassment on my face, because he turned to me and said, “Jenna, they don’t know what they are talking about”. I will never ever forget that because he was right, those boys simply did not have a clue.

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My little neighbour knew better and so did I. There was no way I going to let these boys and their words hurt me because their views meant absolutely nothing. I had to decide at that moment and every moment after that, that I was not going to let any negative thing said about my dark skin ever affect me. I may have been only 13 but the words of my parents and my beliefs were so deeply rooted inside of me. It was simply impossible to convince me to accept or believe in the idea that dark skin was ugly.

I managed to brush it off because even back then I knew that beauty had nothing to do with complexion. I was so sure of that and I was not going to let these two boys blindsight me with their foolery. Unfortunately, this was not the last time I was to be told that I was pretty for a dark skin girl but my stance always remained the same.

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I quickly came to discover that the notion of darker skin being associated with unattractiveness is actually still very common. A recent 2018 study by Jean Jaures looked into the impact of face skin tone on perceived facial attractiveness, results found that overall participants preferred light-skinned faces over dark-skinned ones. Again, this is not shocking because these type of findings have been relatively consistent for decades.

I know some people do not care too much for research or statistics but it would be ludacris to just dismiss such findings. It clearly tells us something and that is Colourism is alive and well and in 2018 and too me that is very concerning. I can only imagine what type of impact colourism could have on young impressionable people, both the victims and perpetrators.

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Another thing that I find very irresponsible is when people try to pass colourism off as personal preference, as opposed to what it really is, colourism. I totally understand that everyone is entitled to like what they like. But for someone to think that darker skin is ugly, for me that goes beyond just preference or what someone prefers. I love dark-skinned men, but that does not mean that I think Lighter-skinned men are less unattractive or ugly.

My Husband could be light-skinned for all I know, but I am yet to meet my husband, so I really do not know what he will look like lol. In my opinion, it is very possible to have a preference that is not built on the poison that is Colourism. Sadly you would think something like colourism should not exist. When in fact if you were to take a closer look you will see that it can be found almost everywhere. The media, the entertainment industry, institutions, the workplace and sadly the list goes on.

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One thing that you should know though is that colourism happens between racial communities and sadly within them. On Black Twitter where some use the hashtags #teamdarkskin and #teamlightskin as a sign of unity within their own group, there are others who abuse this and use it as a way to keep division amongst the two alive.

Sadly the issues between both groups were well established before the birth of Black Twitter. Issues stem from as far back as the days of slavery. Where dark skin slaves were kept out working in the fields and lighter skinned slaves were kept in the house. Lighter skinned slaves were treated fairly better than darker skinned slaves. Reportedly this is just one of many factors that contributed to feelings of superiority amongst those of a  lighter skin tone. The big issue for me is that both groups were slaves and personally I find nothing positive in that, but each to their own.

Some may argue that this superiority is still around today and it continues to feed colourism within the black community. It is very important to know that colourism is not a one-way street though, it affects both dark-skinned women and men. Even those of a  lighter skin tone can fall victims to colourism too. In this day and age, you would think we would be so further away from this.6a87683bb26df9d7e939f9a07eff4653--black-models-black-art.jpg

I feel very blessed that I was able to fall in love with my dark skin from a very young age. By the time I was fully exposed to some of the negative perceptions out there in the world of darker skin, I was unshakeable. I have my parents to thank for that because things could have been very different for me.

There are many dark skin women out there who maybe did not have someone to teach or show them how to love their dark skin. So it is not surprising when faced with negativity about their dark skin, they end up internalising it and it then manifested in other ways. Colourism can be very toxic and damaging to its victims as it can impact everything from self-esteem to mental health.

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Famous actresses such as Gabriella Union and Lupita Nyong’o have openly discussed how they both battled with self-esteem issues because of their complexion. Both extremely beautiful women, who believed that their dark skin was ugly because of the constant negativity they were led to believe. Sadly, there are thousands of other dark-skinned girls and women who have been led to believe the same.

One of the most damaging things has occurred as a result of this is skin bleaching. I think for me this is probably the worse one of them all. It has now become a worldwide pandemic that has many physical side effects as well as psychological. People are going to extreme lengths to change the appearance of their skin, despite knowing the dangers.

Bleaching products are so easily accessible all over the world. I could go online or walk into any black hair shop owned in London and start my bleaching skin journey. I seem to believe if people were openly selling crack cocaine in these local hair shops, the UK government would go to extreme lengths to shut that down. I just do not believe enough is being down to crack down on this. If bleaching skin products are getting through the cracks of the system, then someone is not doing their job properly.

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Things do not stay the same forever and nowadays thing appears to be heading in a positive new direction. Especially within the entertainment and beauty industry concerning dark skinned women. More and more dark-skinned women can be found on covers of international magazine covers like Vogue. Dark skinned women are now leading major beauty campaigns and landing themselves in lead roles in tv shows and films.

Opportunities like this for dark-skinned women were literally non-existent many years ago. Supermodels like Naomi Campbell have paved the way for models like Leomi Anderson to be to able to do what they do. Representation matters and by young dark skinned girls seeing women who look like them in the media,  it is possible that this could have a positive impact on their self-esteem leading to a better self-image.

Dark skin women are now taking centre stage and creating their own narratives instead of being phased by the plague of colourism. It still exists, but more and more dark-skinned women are determined to embrace all of their dark skin chocolate goodness regardless. There is now a strong sense of self-love and pride that oozes from dark-skinned women especially on social media platforms. Everyone appears to be loving their dark skin and they are being unapologetic about it. Again this is amazing stuff as it only helps to uplift those within the dark-skinned community.

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Sadly on these same platforms, there are trolls who work just as hard to keep colourism alive with the constant bullshit they put in tweets and memes. I pray that those who use these platforms positively will develop a zero tolerance for colourism and anything that is associated with it. In today’s society, colourism should have no seat at anyone’s table.

It helps no one and this idea that dark skin is ugly or less attractive needs to come to a swift end. It is complete and utter nonsense and this is me being polite. Dark skin like any other skin tone is beautiful. I can only hope that those who think the opposite comes to know the truth.

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To you, my reader whatever complexion you are, I urge you to be proud and love the skin that you are in. Try your hardest not to be impacted by the mean or hurtful things that people say. Especially on social media if someone talks craps, educate or block them, do whatever is easier for you. We are all equal in Gods image, no one is superior to anybody despite what people may think or promote.

I do hope that this post was insightful to you in some way. I know that is a little different from my usual context but this baby blogger is out there spreading her wings.

If you have had any experiences of colourism or if you want to let me know your views on this post, let’s chat in the comments or you can hit me up on Instagram or Twitter @Jennasworldview.

PS: I have a special skincare post out on Monday 17th September 2018 and I can’t wait for you to read it. Make sure you are signed up to my email updates. All images above were found on good ole google.

Stay blessed

Lots of Love

Jenna

xoxo

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Slaying in all my dark skin goodness in Barcelona – August 2018.

35 thoughts on “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl

  1. I had a lot of bad experiences with colourism growing up, especially with the boys around my area openly telling me that they preferred lighties or how they can’t wait to have mixed raced kids. So horrible. And they would always be love struck by one of my best friends who is mixed race and always drop her name into convo when they saw me as if I wasn’t interesting enough. She did well to support me and I learnt to see that they aren’t worth the time and my skin is beautiful. And we never let them come between our friendship either ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a shame how invasive colorism has been throughout society as a whole, especially in the black community where division is common place like as you said the #teamlightskin/#teamdarkskin dynamic. There’s this persistent division whether it be based off of that or how someone decides to wear their hair. It’s sad how society is today, social media has been this catalyst of change but as you pointed out trolls try to do undo and harass those standing out to make a change. I wrote a paper on colorism and it was disheartening reading how much it affected women of all backgrounds. Growing up I used to hate my complexion because of how noticeable my hyperpigmentation is. However, lately I’ve embraced it because it’s a gift from my Jamaican and African ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience. I literally cannot imagine what you’ve had to deal with, but this post gives me some insight that, because of my white-skinned privilege, I’ve never had to go through. It’s so hard to believe that racism and colorism still exist, in any way, in 2018.

    On a positive note, you and your parents sound amazing. I’m also glad to know that despite any negativity, you are confident in the skin you are in.

    Also, you 100% slay! You are radiant. Great post!

    Like

  4. This comment is long but colorism is a topic!!

    As a child I was really light, way lighter than I am now and I could remember some family members always wanting to keep me out the sun or would shake their head if I got darker. I learned about colorism as a concept, a word, a thing, from reading books about slavery. Can you imagine – a 7,8,9 yo child learning about colorism that way? I learned about the field slaves and house slaves, about mulattos all from books. That’s how I started to understand why some of my family members got mad about the sun.

    My parents didn’t give a crap about that stuff. They never favored me over another child (well my brother is my mommy’s fav cause he a boy) but never favored us for skin color. I used to think my daddy was annoying but I realized him making us watch Roots, and talking to us about Caribbean slavery and American slavery, all of that is important now. Him allowing his 7 yo child to read books about slavery is important now.

    In our house you could be black, you could be brown but you were not chocolate, caramel, coffee. You were not food. And that is why when I wrote that stuff in my book review, that’s why I brought that up. My parents taught us that whatever shade of black/brown might matter to the outside world but all that matters in our house is we love our family and we are not food.

    Now as an adult, I HATE HATE HATE if someone comes to me and says you’re light skinned. I am literally the most neutral shade of brown, save for winter when I get a lil lighter but on everything I have never gotten that special pass lighter women get, I can’t blend into a white space, I have been called the N word MANY TIMES to my face so I KNOW I’m not THAT light. I don’t want that, I enjoy being a brown woman, I enjoy my blackness. I love the color of my skin and I don’t want that level of favor that comes with lightness. To this day, one of those fam members who used to praise me as a child tries to give me bleach to lighten up. The. Hell.

    In my world we are all pretty cause we’re pretty. I prefer darker men and women but I like them “for their darkness”. And in the same breath I will not exclude any other shade/hue just because they’re that color. I think that’s where I have issue with ppl saying preference yet putting down other shades of black to get to their preference.

    I appreciate you bringing up colorism affecting lighter skinned black people because so many don’t believe it. Thank you for writing about this and I am happy you are confident, I am happy you parents poured love into you as a child because so many ppl don’t have that. GREAT GREAT post, one of my favs I’ve read so far!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My girl O

      Thank you very much for this fruitful comment. We all live this life, but our walks are far from the same. For a child with of colour, slavery was not an easy thing to digest or learn about. It was my first visual representation and I must say it stung but I am happy my parents exposed me to the truth.
      The skin tone comparisons to food is something I have picked up more in my older age. I totally understand why your parents would class that as inappropriate. Colourism is common within families and I have heard too many horror stories.

      I have all kinds of shades in my family, so I could not write this post without highlighting that this is not just a dark-skinned issue. We all are hurting.

      Much love for this comment

      Jenna |xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Had to come back to say I honestly don’t mind if anyone refers to themselves as chocolate or caramel, etc. I just think my parents wanted me to understand that there are some ppl who will reduce you to food (or to being a poor girl, negro, island girl, ets) and you’re simply that. You’re not a person you’re a caramel goddess. But why can’t you just be a goddess? Why do you have to always be their sexy chocolate ALL the time.

        Cause let me tell you, if a black guy comes to me and says come taste this chocolate, oh yessss ma’am. But I don’t like when people only think of you in that way. a lot of times it’s people who are NOT black that always reduce black people to being an exotical object.

        I think my parents were just trying to instill the idea that I am a human being first but I don’t mind it at all when it comes from a black person. I ONLY mind it from a black person if there are issues behind it. In that instance my heart is open and I’m ready to talk to them about whatever is going on that they can ONLY see themselves as whatever object.

        Okay this is my last comment!!! girl just LOVE this POST!!

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  5. I’m so glad you have covered colorism, Jenna.
    Even while it’s not your usually topic, it’s important and you’ve addressed it so well. Your parents are everything I aspire to be as a mother! I didn’t realise the affects of colorism and racism fully until I became a mom (I know I was brought up in a mixed household). My daughter often tells me she wants to look like Elsa (From Frozen) and I, like your parents do everything I can to ensure she loves her beautiful complexion and thick natural hair. It’s hard but clearly it can be done because your confidence shines through in your pictures to your tweets! My family often question why I talk to the twins about their skin colour so much because I was taught never too really talk about it but it’s vital. I hope like the media, children’s platforms catch up real soon because the under representation of dark skinned characters is ridiculous.

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    • Even though, this is personal for me, I felt very intimated by the topic. Only because the quality of work others writers have put out is so through, I felt like would my few words matter! -I am so happy that I pushed through and did this post.
      Thank you for opening up about your personal experience also. I think as a mother it is important for children to develop self love very early and sounds like you are doing a great job. Family can give advice but it is best to do as you feel and it is evident that you are doing just that. Again, I would just say continue doing that and I sure the kids will grow up to be confident individuals. Xxxx thank you for reading girl xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have personally always hated the team lightskin, team darkskin thing I never understood why we all cant come together and celebrate all different shades of beauty no matter how light or dark. Your parents did such an amazing job preparing you for the terrible people in the world with unnecessary opinions. You look AMAZING!!

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  7. Omg this was such a good read. I still can’t believe that in 2018, we are still experiencing racism and colorism! It’s despicable and unacceptable. This is why I’m extremely proud of movies like Black Panther, which are overflowing with melanin. Because society is so STUPID that people only believe things are beautiful if Hollywood tells them it is, movies like this really help dark skin people shine!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yasss🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾✊🏾 I highly respect you for addressing this matter in depth!!! Someone throughout this world needed to read this message! I don’t recall being teased nor disgusted because of my complexion, but I did feel low and hated my melanin some years ago when the media made it all seem that light skin girls were it. Curly hair was it. And I have neither of those… it took me a while to accept that I’m beautiful better yet, gorgeous just the way I am! & thank God I came to that conclusion and be comfortable in my skin before I even dreamt of that bleaching stage! 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾 But I love this post!!!!!! Colorism is a serious issue fr fr!

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  9. Thank you for sharing your experience Jenna. It’s awful to know that things like these still happen around us and people think it’s okay when in reality they don’t understand the consequences that their words bring about. I’ve experienced colourism all too well growing up. I never had such strong appreciation at home growing up in regards to being black, it was something that I grew to love as I got older. High school was my toughest time in being black as I was the only dark skinned person there and no one really to cling to for support. In university it got slightly better but still found myself a victim of colourism, especially by the guys. It’s something that should be spoke more about for sure!!

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  10. I love how you didn’t let the uncalled for comments from the volunteer judges in your area get to you. Honestly, I love dark skin, it’s beautiful, not because I’m dark skinned but because it is what it is! Dark skin is beautiful doesn’t imply light skin isn’t. Sadly a lot of dark skinned ladies don’t know what they’re blessed with, they go ahead to bleach their skins therefore having a beautiful “before” and an irritating “after”. If dark skinned people grew to love themselves especially at a young age just like what your lovely parents did, then colorism wouldn’t be an issue, and if colorism isn’t an issue then racism would be at its minimum. But how can we expect the whites to appreciate us when most of us don’t even appreciate ourselves! One would think it’s more in America, but it’s worse in Africa, in a case of black and light skinned Africans, there’s always a sense of superiority which is colorism, and in a case of blacks and black let’s say Ghana and Nigeria, there’s also a case of superiority which is xenophobia! We should all learn to appreciate and love ourselves, we can’t defeat racism with colorism in existence, Charity they say, begins at home. Thank you for this beautiful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for taking the time out to leave me such a thorough comment. I truly appreciate the time and effort. I agree, Dark skin is beautiful. I wish a lot more people were taught to appreciate it from a younger age because we would see less of these issues. I guess what we can only do is teach those who growing the importance of resilience and loving themselves from within first. It is a long road to travel but I believe change is possible.

      Jenna|xo

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love this! It’s definitely an important topic that needs to be spoken about over and over until changes in people/companies attitudes are changed. I like how you touched in your parents constantly telling you how beautiful your blackness is from a young age. I hope to be that kind of parent one day! X

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love this post. It’s such an important topic and I think that it’s time the viewpoints of ignorant individuals are challenged. I think it’s great that your parents encouraged you to be proud of your blackness. It’s a shame that some black children aren’t, so they do drastic things to change their complexion.
    Thank you for sharing this message.
    Kelle – http://www.itskellesspace.com

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  13. Wow. Such a powerful and upsetting post. I never knew colourism is a thing, let alone bleaching! The hashtag are appalling. What purpose does it serve other than to create a divide?
    I can’t believe that this is still a thing in 2018. It is very sad to think that there are still thoughs in society who discriminate.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    Like

  14. I’m so sorry you all have had to endure this. I am white and cannot relate but I grew up with many black friends in Ga and some of them would tell me about the discrimination within their own culture. That is such a shame. I think every hue God created is beautiful. This post is beautiful and touching.God Bless

    Like

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