This article is not meant to guide you, advise you or try to make us darker skin people feel like we’re brave or even outlandishly confident for embracing our dark skin. We just exist.
This article is an account of my personal experiences with being a dark skin black woman, how it has shaped me, and how I came to love the whole of me. This is for you, reader, to understand that you are most definitely not alone when it comes to questioning your beauty in relation to the tone of your skin.
My experience with being a dark skin black woman is something that only became a focal point of my life during my mid-teens. And I’m sure that for you, this may be the same if you grew up during your teenage years in the West. For some, the colourism sentiment lasts longer all the way to adulthood.
Being a black woman has always been something that I have been highly aware of. From the moment I realised I was the only black child in my nursery in a small Czech town, I knew I was black.
Because of this, being seen as different from the rest of the black community didn’t seem like something that even existed in my head. The concept seemed bizarre. I mean surely we are all the same…
Later on in life, I then came on to realise that not all skinfolk are kinfolk.
It can be very difficult to wrap your head around something that is such a big part of you, made to seem like it is the most terrible thing in the world. Especially if you feel like it is something you cannot change and/or do not want to change.
But I am here to tell you that the process of embracing your dark skin comes from self acceptance.
The terrible thing about being consciously made to feel ‘ugly’ for looking different, is how communities can make you feel like you are not the acceptable norm. Not worth celebrating or admiration.
The first step is acceptance.
Understanding that I was a black girl growing up came easy to me. I had my family who shared my ‘gostos’. So I had a sense of belonging somewhere.
But being ‘othered’ for having dark skin was more difficult because this experience is also shared and perpetuated in the community that is meant to embrace you.
Accepting and acknowledging how I felt, without any judgment that could possibly lead to further self-deprecation. I came to understand that I should not let other people’s misguided opinions affect my sense of self so much. And you can do this too.
Now, this is, of course, is much easier said than done. It took me a good few years to face my own set of judgments towards myself and finally accept to love myself. So don’t be too harsh to yourself, and give yourself time to grow into your own identity.
The thing is, people will most likely try to ‘humble’ you, or remind you that you are not what society deems as beautiful or the norm. And I could sit here and tell you that you should expect that and be prepared this way anything anyone says won’t affect you. But that is just not realistic.
You feel things, and it is perfectly normal to not feel so good with how colourism erases your voice as a dark skin black woman. The important part is gaining self-confidence and handling uncomfortable situations in the best way you can.
Words have power, and they can cut you deep.
The way to take back that power is to always advocate for yourself. Always empower yourself and make yourself do the little routines and tasks that make you feel at the most comfortable with yourself.
You’ll have to remind yourself of this, from time to time.
And this is hard.
This is especially hard if you are reminded every day that maybe you aren’t beautiful at all. That being dark skin is not something to be celebrated. But of course, this is not true.
This is another reason why I am going back to the point of self-acceptance. Embracing my dark skin, meaning that to celebrate myself I had to get rid of those who didn’t celebrate me, who did not make me feel accepted. It meant finding my safe group.
And yes, the majority of the work to embracing your gorgeous dark skin is internal. The external appreciation and validation come after. But hopefully, you would have embraced your perfect hue, to the point where you won’t care to receive external validation.
So, start the internal work.
Advocate for yourself, celebrate yourself, and enjoy just being you. People will try to take your shine away by trying to put you down once they see that you know your self-worth. But don’t let that stop you, instead transmute it positively to help you in your journey of self-love.
Relearn what you know.
The thing is, the process of embracing your dark skin during your mid-teens isn’t easy. Especially since everyone around you acts a certain way, and you may feel that you’ll be accepted by assimilating into everyone else’s view.
It becomes an issue when you realise that those same views, you may have brought them into your adulthood.
To grow and evolve into your self-love journey, means dismantling your inner colorist perspectives. And letting them go. This won’t be simple, and you’ll probably find yourself catching your thoughts and words wisely. But that will be worth it. As not only will you finally embrace yourself and love yourself. But you will also help in some way guide other younger dark skin people that feel this way.
You are beautiful.
You are perfect the way you are.
Other people’s opinion of your skin skin tone do not represent who you are. You represent yourself.