Monday, May 30, 2011

The Diary of a Pretty, Dark Skinned Girl

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

This is very hard for me to watch. I grew up in a black neighborhood and went to majority black schools. Virtually all of the popular girls were light skinned. The guys loved them. I did not enjoy such adoration. In middle school, I was called ugly every single day. It may not have been because of my dark complexion but I was certainly was not seen as pretty and I don't think its a coincidence that other dark skinned girls were experienced the same struggles.

Despite the hell the boys put me through, I cannot bring myself to blame them for their actions. We were bombarded with images from r&b and hip hop culture where light skinned, skinny-nosed chicks with flowy hair were greatly desired. Growing up in the 90's, the two most memorable dark skinned women in entertainment were Whoopie and Oprah. The two are talented and accomplished but neither are really celebrated for their beauty. Even the few pretty dark skinned women in the biz were still considered less attractive than their lighter counterparts (Naomi vs. Tyra, Kelly Rowland vs Beyonce, Foxy Brown vs. Lil Kim).

Could you blame a little dark skinned girl like me for thinking her complexion serveed as a hindrance to her beauty? My insecurities about my complexion were not as pronounced as the ladies in the trailer but I certainly empathize with them. It took a long time for others to appreciate my beauty but it took even longer for me to accept my own. I accept my deep, chocolate complexion, my slender curves, my nappy hair, my chubby cheeks and perhaps most proudly, my deeply set, glowing smile. I'm not waiting for the mass media or certain controversial "intellectuals" to catch on. My struggles with acne are not akin to my dark skin, for the latter is not an imperfection. Not anymore.

Unfortunately, many dark skinned black women have not yet traveled down the road I have. But they need to hitch hike and come on! Compliments from others can certainly help with a person's self-confidence, but sometimes you have to force yourself to learn about the complications of your beauty. Sometimes the mirror lies. If the mirror tells you that what you are seeing is inferior, you have to depend on yourself for self-actualization. If your reflection is equating you with negative associations with image then you counteract that with knowledge of the contrary. Know that interpretations with beauty is not universal and in this particular case, is often racist. Why then participate in that?

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