My skin color is something that I’ve struggled with for a long time. I know that within the black community, it’s sort of taboo to say you have struggled with skin tone issues if your skin isn’t a darker complexion. Some people believe that if your skin is light, you shouldn’t have had any negative experiences regarding your skin tone. That kind of thinking still puzzles me because I’ve seen people who are lighter get bullied simply because they’re light. As if it’s something that can be controlled or changed.
Since I was very young, I’ve been called “light bright”, “high pitched yellow monkey”, “light bulb”, “yellow”, “high yeller”, etc. I’ve also been told that there weren’t many brown people in my household, which was always strange to me because we may not be dark brown, but our skin is still brown.
When I was younger, I wished that I could be the deep golden brown color that I turn in the summer. I didn’t always see my skin color as something to be proud of and I wished that it was deeper, richer and darker.
My extended family comes in a variety of skin tones. We really have just about every hue among us. But, I did notice that when I had a tan during the summer, my family would always compliment me on my complexion and how my skin was a beautiful golden brown. I didn’t receive those compliments any other time of the year. Not a big deal, but it’s something that I noticed. It made me wish that my tan would stay. I had this idea that I was only beautiful to other people from June to August. Silly, I know.
Have you experienced light skinned privilege?
No, I haven’t experienced this myself. I went to a predominantly white school growing up and they all saw every black student in the school as dark. You weren’t treated any differently if your skin was lighter. In fact, I once made a statement in class saying, “I can’t wait until summer so I can lay out on the beach and tan.” Another white student then said “Why would you need to get a tan? Your skin is already dark.” The student saw no difference between me and my chocolate brown best friend.
I don’t think dark and light skinned people segregate themselves blatantly and obviously. However, I do hear and notice the segregation in the undertones of what people say and do. I have an acquaintance that has a darker complexion and she always comments on the beauty of someone who has deep brown chocolate skin. When it comes to someone who is lighter that is also beautiful, she never says a word. I can see beauty in everyone. Beautiful is beautiful to me. I don’t understand how you refuse to acknowledge someone’s beauty because of their skin tone. I understand that lighter skin tones have been associated with beauty for centuries, even if the individual isn’t all that attractive, but if someone is drop dead gorgeous and happens to have a lighter complexion, you have to recognize that and vice versa. Every complexion, light, dark, or in the middle, is beautiful to me.
How do you feel about your skin color today?
I’ve realized that worrying about the hue of your skin is silly. There are so many other things to be concerned with and my skin shouldn’t be one of them. Unless it’s unhealthy, what’s there to worry about? My skin is beautiful! I still love my skin tone during the summer, but I now love it during the cooler months as well. It’s my skin and its God given. I didn’t decide to be this complexion and I shouldn’t be put down for it.