Over the past few years, being a dark-skinned woman has become a glorified trend. It wasn’t always this way, which is why it’s been an extremely humbling experience. I am a young, confident woman with a personality that always gravitates people towards me. Unfortunately, this is not the first thing people notice when they see me. I am a dark-skinned black woman first and foremost. It took a lot for me to get to where I am now because I felt as though I had to be cautious for a number of reasons. Children will be children, and they learn the things that they do from home, so I am not angry about my experiences; I just won’t ever forget them.
When I was younger, kids used to tease me about my skin because they “couldn’t find me with the lights off” or I was “as black as night”. My first instinct was to be combative with my words and yell back at them in my defense. I didn’t think that I could possibly be the bad guy considering I was the victim. I quickly learned at a young age to be cautious of what I choose to say back because my skin tone automatically labeled me as “The Aggressor” – this caused my voice to be silenced for years. I wanted my silence to speak before I let these insults turn me into the stereotypical labels that society placed upon me.
I’ve always been told, “You’re pretty for a dark-skin girl”, but I grew up thinking having dark skin was unattractive. It wasn’t until I got older I realized these people have insecurities within themselves to think that all dark skin wasn’t beautiful. Fast forward a couple years later, there is an obsession with dark skinned women, including the comparisons to chocolate, coffee, and things of that nature. I would accept compliments but I felt as though I had to be cautious not to give myself compliments out loud first. Why? I get afraid that someone would try to humble me with insults about my skin being too dark, so I doubted my beauty for years.
Growing up, I was told not to wear certain colors because they were too bright or too dark for my tone – but I’ve learnt what does and doesn’t work for me. Neon colors were an absolute no, and colors like black and dark brown made me apprehensive because the kids at school would say that I am naked. I had to learn how to do my own makeup because for some reason, people didn’t understand that all dark skin doesn’t have the same undertones or shade. These people thought every dark person had ONE foundation shade. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to let people know that my face is not an experiment and it’s okay to let people know that colors like neon orange and yellow look BOMB on my skin. Being cautious of what I decided to parade on my body whether that be makeup, clothes or nail polish caused me to miss out on things that made me feel beautiful. Never again.
I am confident in the woman I am today, and the confidence beams off of me to (hopefully) become absorbed by other black girls and women who look like me. This is one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve ever experienced and I will never stop being a voice for younger generations. I encourage other black women, whatever their skin tone, to be yourself at all times. You don’t have to be overly cautious to fit into other people’s lives, or to please people who are insecure themselves. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You won’t be able to please everyone, so be yourself and everything else will fall in line.
Written by Tiffany Chayla