After watching it was I surprised by the way I was reacting. I didn't burst out in tears, but I was identifying some of those insecurities within myself that I thought I had conquered and I hated that. I wouldn't consider myself dark-skinned - I actually prefer caramel, hence my nickname - but I felt wrong for ever thinking that by Black standards, I'm better off being lighter, and by Dominican standards, I'm a bit too dark (both of my backgrounds). I think that at this point in my life I have grown a lot more comfortable with myself, skin color, body type, hair and all, but I seriously wish that myself and other young women didn't need to "get comfortable." Why are we the ones who have to do the adjusting? We're just expected to learn to love ourselves when we have ignorance hissing in our ears?
But listen, I'm not making excuses.
This past Spring semester I wrote my thesis on the changing portrayal of African American women's body image in magazines, so I covered everything from Aunt Jemima to Michelle Obama. Obviously, one of the big things I talked about was skin color and it's significance in both black and white society. It was the first time that I was seeing this written in books by scholars. Through my own research I discovered how there were brief stints of time when being dark skinned was en vogue (like during the 70s and around the Black Power Movement) and there were also times when being light skinned with more white features were in. Yet, light skin has historically been associated with a higher status and thus, more positive qualities. What hurt me the most was that it was black people who were judging one another the harshest. One thing I did discover is that even if darker-skinned models were being featured in magazines, there were still magazines that lightened well-known celebrities - celebrities that weren't even that dark to begin with. As much as we'd like to think we're growing as a society overall, we shouldn't be concerned about accepting dark-skinned women. We should have a natural inclination to love and tell people that they are beautiful no matter what their shade.
Watching that video also got me to start thinking about what my siblings and children, if I ever have any, are going to grow up with. People tell me now that they anticipate my boyfriend and I will have beautiful mixed kids because he's white and I'm black, but I always tell them that my kids will be beautiful no matter what race J and I was. I know I can't change the way people think as a whole, but I can always start with myself and I think my thesis helped me understand that. It's still a growing process though, because I do catch myself having my moments where I'm like, "Oh no! I don't wanna stay in the sun because I'll get darker." Like, it baffles me when my white friends ask me to "lay out."
But it's the summer. I should just enjoy it even if my skin goes from a Soft Sable to a Toasted Almond by L'Oreal standards.
Sidenote: "Toasted" almond! Why is that that?
Double Sidenote: If I hear, "she's pretty for a dark-skinned girl" one mo' 'gain. Okay, I'm done.