I’ve written about colorism twice this week (read HERE and HERE), and after reading some of the comments on these posts, I feel compelled to to write this post.

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I’m not going to dive into the history of colorism, but if you want to learn a thing or two about it click HERE. What I will do is discuss the responses I’ve gotten to the posts I’ve shared. They go a little something like this:

  • “Why are dark skin girls always making a thing of this?”
  • “I’m sorry your mother never taught you to love yourself. It starts at home
  • “When I was younger I wish I had dark skin. Dark skin is beautiful”
  • “You are so beautiful. I’m sorry you felt that way.”
  • “I love my chocolate skin, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve always loved it.”
  • “I have two chocolate grand-babies and they are the cutest ever.”

Sigh

Let me make this as clear as possible: Beauty is subjective and beauty is shallow. When dark skin women discuss Colorism, it is not meant as an invitation for you or anyone else to then share how beautiful dark skin women are, or how you’ve always loved “chocolate skin.”  We are not food. And frankly, beauty or perceived beauty doesn’t mean anything in our day-to-day lives. In short, talk is cheap.

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OUFIT DETAILS

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If you trusted social media, you might presume that dark skin has always been celebrated. The number of “melanin”-themed t-shirts and hashtags go up by the day, but real-talk? All of that is fluff.  One of the reasons I’ve taken several steps back from creating beauty-themed videos on Youtube is because I’ve found that in order for a woman who looks like me to get a fraction of the views and opportunities, I would have to be damn near exceptional. I would have to be the Lupita or the Naomi Campbell of Youtube. Who can be bothered? Not me. And I’m not blaming it on beauty companies or white people (entirely). I’m blaming some of it on us.  When it comes to beauty, there exists a standard to which many brown women aspire. They want looser curls and lighter skin.  Rather than watch and support the women who look like them, they watch women with features and hair that is not like their own.

Feel free to count me amongst the guilty because I sure did find myself watching Mahogany Curls and Taren Guy videos when my hair was longer.  Whether or not we want to admit it, somewhere during the course of our lives how we view ourselves begins to get screwed up by how society views us. And this isn’t an issue of “lack of self-love” or not having been taught to love ourselves at home. Most parents aren’t running around teaching their dark skin daughters that they are ugly. We do love ourselves. It is the outside world that tells dark skin women that they are less valuable than their lighter skinned counterparts, and that is the issue.

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I do not need to be told I am beautiful. Children do, perhaps, but most adult dark skin women aren’t hung up on our looks.   What we rail against is society’s insistence that dark skin is not acceptable, and that we don’t deserve to be seen and heard just as much as other women. That we are so downtrodden, that when one Lupita is hailed as the most glorious dark skin woman on earth, we should all bow down in gratitude. Make no mistake, I love me some Lupita; however, folks act like she’s the second-coming for dark skin women.

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Ultimately, the answer to colorism isn’t just about celebrating beauty, as beauty is subjective and beauty is fleeting. Not every dark skin woman has skin that flecks with gold. We aren’t all  Nubian Goddesses. We are more than our looks, and that’s what we want the world to celebrate.  Normalizing dark skin, for me, is one of the primary ways we can combat colorism. Telling me I’m beautiful or have the most beautiful skin you’ve ever seen simply trivializes an issue that goes beyond beauty.
If you Like this Post check out this post HERE, HERE,  or HERE.

If you like my hair, check out how I created this style below:

I'm a Lipstick-obsessed Journalist and Fashion Blogger. You can find me over on my blog or youtube channel swatching lippies and strutting around in 5-inch heels. I'm a also a brand coach, specializing in video marketing and digital brand development. Find me @lisaalamode.

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20 Comments on "Telling Dark Skinned Women They are Beautiful is Not the Answer to Colorism"

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Glamslinky

Why do some black women get to glorify in their quest to look white women (straightened hair and/or wigs, blue or lightened contacts, bleached skin), yet when a white woman wants to look black or identify with blackness (and no, not HER) there is an uproar. From a social standpoint, I am interested to know what people think.

Loveothers4ever

Simple answer, not only white people have straight hair, blow dry curly hair and its straighter, also historically black hair was discriminated against by whites and even now children are thrown out of school for wearing natural hair. AA were brainwashed to believe their hair is bad. When has that happened to a white person?

Glamslinky

First, you didn’t answer my question. My original question was not about why black women are discriminated against for their natural hair. Second, Google “Chenise Benson sent home from school”.

SupaBlackGirl
Actually, she did answer your question. Black women get positive reinforcement from society for adopting a eurocentric appearance by getting the very tools they need to survive & thrive. The more “ethnic” they look, the less love, attention, resources, and opportunities they get handed to them. The closer they get to white, the smoother the ride. Go look up the history of “passing” to get that more in depth. White women get scorn because for them it holds little to no meaning. When we wear our hair textures, styles, embrace our culture and skin tone, Black women (along with most… Read more »
Loveothers4ever

Thank you! great points made here.

Loveothers4ever

You asked what people think and you got an answer. Google the word OPINION. Lesson for the day: Stop being condescending, you reap what you sow.

Glamslinky

I wasn’t asking for an opinion. I was asking why white women are condemned for wearing black hairstyles, but black women aren’t condemned for wearing styles that are Caucasian, or not of their natural hair. As far as being condescending, I think you missed your mark. Either answer the question, or say nothing at all.

Interested

I’m in a natural hair group and practically every hair related discussion is about shrinkage, stretching the hair and achieving looser curls, that to me is the opposite of embracing the natural self. And the criticisms on that site surrounding a black, black guy, people forget the diversity of colour and the fact that a lot of black people are dark with tight hair.

Nunya Bizness

Shrinkage to me has never been about achieving a looser curl. I like to have my hair as big and full as possible when in a afro or in a half up/half down style. Shrinkage interferes with this.

Interested

But I think there is a strong perception that hair has to be long to be feminine, and long in a Caucasian way.

Sabrina black

I over stand. I will share this. It’s worth the read. I look up to women who look like me. I’ve been doing that.

Camille
One of the most powerful things I’ve done as a black woman is to stop buying cosmetics from brands that don’t carry my foundation color or use black women in their ads. I dont buy Tressemme even, because there are no ads with a black woman despite how many naturals love their products. You can’t force others to include you but you don’t have to pay for them to exclude you. I think companies that only have white foundation colors are doing it more deliberately than it may appear. Its hard to not just pick up a lipstick or mascara… Read more »
justtwo post

YES

Jame

Here are a few thoughts: have fully formed female characters in entertainment with dark skinned. Having makeup choices. Have fewer light women represent every black character on TV. And maybe we will start making some progress.

TWA4now

True real beauty is an. Inside job.

aiych

Very true…it seems more like dark skinned women are being fetishized and sexualized. It reminds me of how white people will come up to me and gush over my natural hair and compliment it, which is fine and dandy, but they would lose their minds if they woke up one day with an afro like mine. It’s lip service.

cth4GiG

First I was like, omg here it is again. Then I read through the post and got this-“Normalizing dark skin, for me, is one of the primary ways we can combat colorism.” Enough said. Dark skin is not an extreme to be reckoned with rather it’s a part of His creation, as other tones.

Esha Fowlin

You are so right. We have been trained to idolize worship and support women who do not look like us. Personally i have been trying to change that, i am looking for women who look like me to tell me about fashion beauty even music because unfortunately its that deep. Dark skin wont get any real love or recognition unless we support dark skin in the popular culture.

Ugo

I’m so glad you said this. In this eurocentric paradigm that we’re living in, I make it a point to create a world of dark skinned, broad-featured images around me. It’s affirming. In the same way we’ve been conditioned to worship light skin, we can be conditioned to worship dark skin. The more i retrain myself, the less I care about society’s training.

cth4GiG

My mind melts at the site of dark skin. I wrote in another post about my black, black (yeah he deserves two) hubby whom I am just in awe of. I am so captivated and charmed by dark skin men, women, and children. The same subjects that made lightness a commonality cringes at the thought of too white and too dark. So skin tone was placed in a box and normalized. It doesn’t matter what the common minded sees, it is not our choice to decide if the next man -woman is beautiful or not.

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