Last Friday Ty of Gorgeous In Grey, wrote a post about the Bill Duke documentary Dark Girls, that delves into the (not so lovely) experiences of dark-skinned African-American girls and women. I’d heard about it a few days before her post, but had yet to watch the trailer, because I wasn’t ready for the emotions I knew it would bring forth. Nonetheless, I watched the trailer from Ty’s post, and it provoked every emotion that I had been avoiding by not watching it the few days before. I’m usually a 3-4 sentence commenter (at most), but as a dark-skinned African-American woman who experienced lots of ridicule and ill-treatment as a result of my skin growing up, this post evoked a lengthy comment, of which I had to cut myself short:
Ty, I am going to keep this comment a bit shorter than I planned, as I will go into deepr depths in my post next Friday, but I am so grateful for a movie like this to potentially open up a deeper dialogue about this issue.
As I type this post, I am in tears, as I think about all of the pain, sadness, and frustration I felt growing up because of my dark skin, and even more so for the little dark skin girls growing up now who are experiencing the same things. It started in elementary school being called names like “tar-baby, black, blacky, midnight, and so much more.” By middle school, I started to hear “You’re pretty for a dark girl.” In high school, it was “lets be friends, or you’re pretty for a dark girl, or I don’t date dark girls, or lets just kick it (never in front of others). All of these things, had a detrimental effect on my self-esteem, but I am eternally grateful for a mom and some (notice I said some) aunts, and a grandma who did their best to always let me know I was beautfiul. One of my aunt’s used to call me her beautiful black doll, and in those moments I felt just that! I am grateful that my 20′s have been a great time of self-love for me, and while thoughts of my experiences growing up as a dark-skinned girl still bring about raw emotion, I LOVE my gorgeous, flawless (most of the time, lol), dark black skin!
I believe to cure our community of this issue, it must start at home. Parents must stop distinguishing light skin as better, and parents with dark skin daughters must be sure to let their daughters they are beautiful, because if I didn’t have a parent that let me know my skin was beautiful and “blacker the berry, sweeter the juice,” something I really didn’t understand until I became an adult and began to love myself, then who knows what road low self-esteem could have led me down.
I now anxiously await the arrival of this documentary!
In case you haven’t seen the video, please take a moment to watch it before continuing.
I could write a book about my experiences growing up as a dark-skinned girl in the African American community, from being called so many names and being picked on by kids in elementary school that I in return became a bit of a bully who liked to fight anybody that even looked at me wrong (often people who are considered bullies are mean, are this way as a defense mechanism; no excuse just speaking from experience), to some girls not being my friend because being friends with a dark skinned girl would make them uncool, to the infamous boys telling me I’m pretty for a dark skinned girl (I often wondered, why can’t I just be pretty?!). The list could go on and on and on. Nonetheless, Ty asked several bloggers to write about WHY I LOVE MY BROWN SKIN, and for me this is the greatest result of my childhood experiences, the fact that I now LOOOVE MY DARK SKIN!
Sweet like chocolate
I truly belive the saying, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” The words, jokes, and hurt feelings from my childhood and adolescence all helped make me the strong, confident, authentic woman that I am today! I am no longer that mean girl that kept up a wall to keep people from ridiculing and hurting me, instead I am friendly and full of positivity. When I see a person with lighter skin, I no longer wish my skin was lighter or feel like I am not as pretty as them, but instead hold my head high and carry on without any damge to my self-esteem. When someone says I’m pretty, I no longer feel like they are lying to me, and if they say I am ugly, I KNOW, they are lying to me, LOL.
I was a bit weary about writing this post, because it’s extremely personal, and I prefer y’all only know the self-loving woman that I am today. Nonetheless, I strongly believe this is an issue that needs to be further discussed and explored, because I wouldn’t want my daughter or any girl to have the same experiences I had growing up as a result of having dark skin and to hopefully let other little dark skinned balck girls see IT GETS BETTER! I also realize that though dark skin was my issue in the African-American community, many of you may have had similar experiences within your racial or cultural community, and I hope we can all learn from each other’s experiences.
Take some time to vist Gorgeous In Grey to see what other bloggers had to say about loving their brown skin! Please share your thoughts, reactions, and personal esperiences in the comments! Don’t be shy; I love open discussions. 🙂