By Precious Tawaia I Opinion
By Venus Aby I Opinion
By Kemi Oloyede I Lifestyle
By Frankie I Opinion
50 Shades of Melanin
Melanin Talks I Opinion
It’s about time we started talking more about colour. We live in a century where your skin colour is a reflection of where you stand in the social hierarchy. Don’t believe me? Well I’m sorry to tell you but it’s the harsh truth of reality in which we live in. This idea of certain shades of colour being stigmatised to something negative is called colourism. In the Oxford Dictionary, colourism is defined as prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group. Yes, I’m a dark skinned girl. The world may have their own perspective of me but none of which I allow myself to be recognised as. On this post, I will be sharing the implications of colourism both physical and mental, along with my own personal experiences of colourism and the stigmas surrounding them.
There are more than 50 shades of black, with each of them being just as beautiful as the next light or dark shade. As I’m about to write on my experiences remember that I cannot speak for everyone, as it is a personal reflection that I’ll be sharing with you. Growing up it has always been me (aka the 1 or 2 dark skin bodies) versus the white/light skinned bodies. In my entire time at school I had never been found attractive. I always found my friends getting into relationships and being complimented; it was not them that I was angry with but in fact the social system that had been created against those of dark colour. The world had already ‘validated’ people like me as not worthy from the onset and therefore don’t feel the need to change that thought process that has been set for years. At the time, I would shrug off the lack of existence as I was young and still trying to get through school itself. When looking back now, I’m more aware of the mental effect it had on me and almost felt disappointed with my past self, for not having the confidence to love myself (even know it’s something I work on as time passes). I would try to attain ethnocentric features by getting the straightest weave, talking ‘white’ and even using skin lightening lotion to get that glow which was admired. I wouldn’t wish that kind of mindset on anyone at all and now I see it as a part of me which I’ve grown from. I’ve learned to appreciate my skin as something uniquely beautiful, reminding myself that it’s okay to be different and no matter what changes I undergo it will not change who I am.
I can also add that social media has a huge impact on colourism and isolating those of darker colour. I mean I could literally give you a list as long as my arm on companies, cultures, celebrities, beauty industries and others, that deliberately exclude the favouritism of having dark skin. For instance, let’s discuss Blac Chyna’s new beauty venture on Whitenicious *cough cough*. The product and the name itself promotes the favour of lighter skin. Chyna’s beauty product is a lightening cream which gives the user that lighter complexion (closer to the socially desired skin colour). When I saw her promotion of this brand on her Instagram, I honestly was speechless to the core and it literally felt like we were almost making a huge step backwards again. This is mostly due to the fact that skin lightening is not a new concept for those in the black community; what threw me was her proud attitude of openly declaring that dark shades were not good enough and only those of lighter complexion would do. Skin lightening creams and other types of such common brands are the consequences of individuals inevitably wanting to distance themselves from their skin colour. It’s the theme which runs in many racially orientated novels. For example, Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye, centres around a young black girl called Pecola who wishes for nothing more than blue eyes. Her ethnocentric desires end up being her downfall and comes to the realisation that although she attains her wish, she is just as invisible as she was at the beginning of it all. I think that the novel perpetually addresses the same issues of some dark-skinned people wanting to grasp ethnocentric features through drastic means and Morrison deliberately plays on this notion by the way in which the story ends with Pecola.
You should never have to feel ashamed of your shade of skin colour by what the society dictates to be ‘universally beautiful’ as those opinions are nothing more than opinions. They don’t have the right to validate such claim as true and we should not do the same either. Along the line, I personally chose to no longer to accept the “you’re beautiful for a dark-skin girl” comments because dark girls ARE just as beautiful as the next and it doesn’t need to be changed. All 50 shades of melanin are something that should be celebrated (as in truly loved) rather than ostracised by society and yourself. Yes we have to fight for a lot of things in this world, but don’t let your beauty be something else that they can take away from you. We’re our own special kind of beautiful which is something we should own. All I ask is that you remind yourself almost everyday that your skin colour is enough to be beautiful and no change is necessary.
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