Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dark Girls

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Oprah premiered a documentary a few days ago called “Dark Girls”. It is a documentary about black women who share their stories of growing up dark skinned. It discusses self-esteem issues which women of darker skin face. (Read not ALL.)

And well, it made me sick to my stomach. Not because I felt bad for these women but because I felt bad that they even allowed their dark skin to create self-esteem issues.

You aren’t beautiful because you’re dark skinned? Um, OK ... what freaking planet are you living in? I hope that many people watch it and start making some choices. You are either going to go your whole life believing these silly things or start making damn sure that everyone you encounter never believe these things.

I grew up in an African household. We were raised very differently from many of my American friends. In my house, our dark skin was beauty. In their house, lighter skin was beautiful. It was so beautiful in their opinion that many purposely bleached their skin to have lighter skin. I MEAN, COME ON!

In my house, my mom begged us not to relax (chemically straighten) our hairs. In their house, it wasn’t even a choice. This kinky hair of mine was not cute. I did not have good hair, I was told. In my house, good hair was your natural hair. There were a lot of differences I saw growing up but that isn’t the point of this post.

I remember being made fun of as a kid for having kinky hair and dark skin. I was told that my mom must have burnt me in the oven/toaster because I was so black. I was also told that I was black as night and that you wouldn’t even see me if it was not for my white teeth. I remember a guy telling me in middle school that he couldn’t like me like a girlfriend because I wasn’t lighter skinned. I remember being told that I would be so much prettier if I was light skinned.

I won’t lie and say that my little girl feelings were not hurt. It is the reason that at 12 years old I decided I was getting a relaxer. My mom could not stop me. I wish she slapped me silly.

But for some reason, I use to stare in the mirror and admire my skin tone. I really, really loved my skin tone. I loved that if I had a bruise you couldn’t see it. I loved that my skin turned a gorgeous red when I was in the sun. I loved that I did not get burnt if I was in the sun for too long. And I think it had a lot to do with growing up in a household where our skin tone was beautiful.

And then in high school, I began being told that I was pretty for a dark skinned girl. Whatever that meant. Pretty for a black girl? No, I’m just pretty, biatch.

It is a shame that many women’s self-esteem have suffered due to this ridiculousness. Because that is what it is. Ridiculous! I mean, really? You’re going to allow what others say/believe make you feel a certain way? You are the only person who is in control of the way you feel. Why would you let anyone control that? It is sad, really.

Stand in the mirror. See yourself. Whatever color you are. Stare at that person and say, I’m a damn goddess. You’re the only one you’re ever going to be, so be damn sure to love YOU.

No one, I mean no one can ever tell me that my dark skin isn’t beautiful. My mom told me it is. Sean tells me it is. And better yet, I know it is. So there! My middle school and high school “friends” I’m sure are still trying to figure it out. Good thing I knew all along.

39 comments:

Cece said...

Love this post! I haven't seen that series you are talking about. I think it's great that you were brought up to know and believe that you are beautiful despite what others around you were saying. You have such an amazing confidence about yourself now and it probably goes way back to those family values you grew up with. Darker skin is in! Not that it matters. Because we are who we are and we are beautiful no matter what.

Christelle said...

Love this, Faith, and love your confidence! Beauty does come in all colors, shapes and sizes and I HATE it so much when ignorant people feel the need to belittle others when they don't fit into some rediculous cookie cutter mold (it can definitely have lasting effects on those of us that don't have your confidence and wise parents). Thank you for standing up and writing this post today, beautiful lady!

The Pink Growl said...

I watched this show too and I loved the raw honesty of that little girl! You are absolutely gorgeous Ms. Faith and I am so glad that you already know it! GO GIRL! :)

redwhitebride said...

you are gorgeous and i love that you know it! your picture with the two admirers in the background proves your point :-)

Carolyn said...

Ugh. I hate this! I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood, and I saw the same thing happen to many friends of mine. SO DUMB! I love your confidence and the fact that your family raised you that way! So awesome!!

Angela K said...

I love this message! The world will always have their opinion of what is right or beautiful. And if I don't fit into that exact model I'm the wrong one. Not society for being closed minded, but me. Yeah right! I still battle every day with feeling like I'm ok, even though I'm not (and never will be) that perfect size 2 (or 4), but that's the world telling me you have to look a certain way to be acceptable. And that's sick! I don't want my children to think that. Ever. There are many ways to be beautiful and the best way to get there is self acceptance. I've been focusing more on being happy and healthy, and that's what matters!

Thanks for sharing Faith!

Mercedes Dorsey said...

Preach!!! I love this post. All little girls of every skin tone should feel beautiful despite anything. Thanks for putting this out there :)

Nancy said...

I experienced a lot of judgement coming to Alabama from Michigan ~ mostly my northern accent. It's so hard to feel like an outcast. I wish I would have had the confidence that you have.

Law_Fal said...

Amen! :)

Christine said...

Beautifully said!!

NikG said...

I am glad that you have a such strong sense of self that you didn't really have to deal with the issue of "colorism" the same way others have. At the same time, I take a bit of issue with the tone of this post! (still luv ya tho. lol). It comes across a bit condescending as oppose to sympathetic. You said you had a mother AND a culture that emphasized to you how beautiful your dark skin is and how beautiful your natural hair is. But many dark skinned women, didn't/don't get that. How could a girl get that kind of support from a mother, who probably didn't get that kind of support from her mother, who didn't get it from her mother, and and on and on. The repercussions of slavery run deep, and though we all have our own personal experiences--to think that something so engrained in psyche/culture can be summed up so simply as women "allowing" other ppl to make them feel that way, is a very naive way to see it.

Thanks for sharing your point of view though.

Heather said...

Great post! You are beautiful and right to embrace it! All women should follow your lead and just love themselves regardless of others' ridiculous and hateful views.

Stesha said...

I love this post! I am so proud of you for standing strong and for what you believe! I wish more people who take what they are given naturally and embrace it, people of all colors. Happy Thursday love!

xxS

Tenecia said...

I have to admit...I thought about not commenting on this one...because I am one of the women who has felt "less than" because of the color of my skin. I won't go into all of it but sometimes, things are easier said than done. I know that I am not my hair, my weight, my skin tone, etc but it is something I still struggle with.

I'm interested in this documentary...I'm off to see if it will air again soon...

T.

Sunkissed and Southern said...

So beautifully said!

Kiki said...

I love this post!! you are gorgeous!! i think all skin is gorgeous and it all has it benefits! once we can see that we are who we are and we ought to love who we are is when you start to truly be happy! you rock for writing this!! im a damn goddess!! <3 you!!!
XOXO

TheRealNovelate.com said...

it's really sad, because honestly, i think it's adults that teach this to kids, and it simply continues generation after generation. i've made it a point in my life to encourage kids--especially little girls--by telling them that they are beautiful. i make it even more of an effort if it seems like they might be the kind of little girl that doesn't get told that very often. i think the key to a generation who is proud of their skin is through adults setting an example and making people feel beautiful in their own skin while they are young. i can honestly say that the fact that my parents did that for me and didn't allow people to make comments to me about skin or hair texture makes a world of difference in how i see myself today!
great post!

- morgan

Eesh said...

Bam! You hit the nail right on it's ugly head! Sadly, it isn't Caucasians that differentiate light skinned from dark skinned, it's our own people!

To this day I have "friends" telling me that I can't partake in conversations on slavery because my ancestors were the slave masters or whenever I decide to speak standard English instead of our Bahamian dialect, I'm tapping into my "white side". Bunch of ignorant a**holes!

I think that every black is beautiful and every black woman light skinned or dark skinned should know and feel that they are beautiful inside and out. It's such a tragedy though because it's still going on to this day. I'm so glad you touched on this topic.

xo

Emily Gilbert said...

People always find a reason to hate somebody I swear. You are beautiful.I'm sorry you were teased when you were younger (haven't we all been). I'm glad you didn't believe their lies.

Kirsten Wiemer said...

what the heck, why are people so crazy?
i love your dark skin. i always envy people with dark skin. i think lighter dark skin is beautiful.
but your skin is so deep and rich and beautiful.
while i have always hated my skin and envied my moms olive skin, i will never have it.
i can only dream of one day adopting a beautiful dark child. that probably makes me weird?
there's beauty in every color, just depends on your perspective.
you are beautiful and i love your skin!

K

Pegster said...

Faith, this is one of the most poignant post I have ever read. I think that as African (born to African parents), we'll have a complete different view on this topic than the African American do.

I was the same way you were, raised in a house where the color of my skin was seen as nothing but beautiful

Ever since I've had my kids, the comments I have heard....geez. No wonder they create issues.

I hope that if I have a daughter one day, I can teach her to appreciate her beauty just the way she is.

Mrs JK said...

That's really sad. Growing up it was such a none issue at home. We all come in ALL the diff shades of brown. Now I hear so much reference to lighter skin being more "beautiful". I've said it many a time, I love my dark skin and not even for a million dollars would I change it (for real)!.

Ashley Porter said...

my favorite post I have read of yours yet!!!

I always thought you were the cutest thing ever.... of course you already knew that <3

Miss Monica said...

Good Post! Didn't have this issue in my household thank goodness. My siblings are all different shades of brown. Nothing ever happened to me at school either. But if it did I probably would have cried.

Desiree Macke said...

Beautiful post, Faith. Everyone needs to read this.
You are absolutely gorgeous. What in the world were those 12-year olds THINKING?
It's so interesting to see how things are flip-flopped. Growing up it wasn't much fun to be pasty white. All my friends and I would tan, and tan, and tan. The darker we tanned, the better. The girls who couldn't afford to tan were often the girls who were "unpopular." Isn't that a crying shame?
It's so sad it took so long to find the beauty it what God had given me.

Jennifer said...

I just love you girl - your honesty, your transparency and just being who you are. You rock.

It blows my mind the things that kids say - my inner twelve year old wants to go and beat up those other girls. My inner twelve year old is also not very mature. (o; I was raised with seeing people as people, friends, and equals - not race, skin color, background, sexual orientation etc. I feel sorry for people who have been raised in ignorance.

Glad you are embracing your beauty - you really are one gorgeous lady - inside and out!!

Ashley R said...

"No, I'm just pretty, biatch." <--- I just got major girl power and PEOPLE power goosebumps. #1 I think you are crazy gorgeous! #2, I love how you control your own outlook. I know that's not the whole picture, but I once heard that choosing your attitude for the day, is like picking your shoes- you are in control. I need to work on this (and self esteem), but I really loved this post and I LOVE that you choose to empower yourself on a daily basis. You are an amazing woman!

Georgina said...

I popped on your page today and saw there was a Part 2 so came here to read from the beginning. I got a knot in my throat, the good kind. It reminds me to be me, not what others consider to be beautiful. That I am beautiful no matter what others say as long as I believe it.
Thank you for that reminder Faith. I think a lot of us needed it.

Life with J and J said...

So very well written. Your mom did an excellent job helping you and your sisters with your confidence. Kudos to them.
My folks always told us we are ALL equal not matter your race or color. We live and breath the same air and bleed the same way.

Kasey Lynne said...

This breaks my heart. It hurts to hear that young women have huge self-esteem issues because of this topic. Our world is so full of hate, when all God calls us to do is love one another.

ps: I think you're beautiful!

Max g said...

well said

Carla said...

Amazing post, Faith! And although I hate this subject altogether, I'm glad that you touched on it. While you were teased for having dark skin, I was teased for being "orange" and having a "white person's nose." Even now, I am often asked if I am mixed, like I can't be a regular beautiful black woman. But, I digress.

I absolutely HATE to hear someone utter the words "she's pretty.. for a dark skin girl." That is one of the most disrespectful things you can say to someone. I admire you for your strength and for knowing who you are and knowing that you are beautiful. You're beautiful because you're beautiful. Point. Blank. Period.

Nic A said...

Faith I am so glad that you didn't let what those fools said get to you! Your parents raised you right girl!! I hate the "you have such a pretty face" comment. In my case it was followed with "For a bigger girl." Why can't we just be pretty period?!?

Whitney Cypert said...

Love this! Your dark skin is so beautiful! I used to have a really hard time accepting my skin because I am so pale. I remember in middle school/high school I tried SO hard to tan...laying out, going to the tanning bed, spending endless money on self tanner. None of it worked, I either burned or turned an ugly orange color from the self tanner. In the last couple of years I have finally learned to accept that I am never going to be tan and I have actually started to like my skin color. I think all different types of skin colors are so pretty!

Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama said...

Great post. I'm sorry those things were said to you. I "get" the dark girls documentary because I think it's really about your surroundings. Sometimes you don't know any better. Being a dark skinned woman now I love it but I am not going to say that I always did. I understand both sides of the coin I suppose.

Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama said...

Great post. I'm sorry those things were said to you. I "get" the dark girls documentary because I think it's really about your surroundings. Sometimes you don't know any better. Being a dark skinned woman now I love it but I am not going to say that I always did. I understand both sides of the coin I suppose.

Maria said...

faith, this was my favorite post of yours. it made me cry...have tears rolling down my face. you are SUCH beautiful, strong, vibrant woman. i admire you so much. and loved your words...i think it was awesome that you shared this.
you are such an inspiration.
thank you for sharing this. YOU ROCK!!! xoxoxo
maria

Kimberly Anne said...

*singing* How about a round of applause? *singing* Love you, Faith! You are such a strong woman.

Kathy C. said...

I literally could have taken your name out of this post and put mine. We had the same childhood. I never understood why people saw me for the shade of my skin tone. I've always loved it though. And I had my first creamy crack experience when I was 14...still hooked.