expensive weave

It Has Taken Me About 10 Years To Learn To Love My Skin

1. I genuinely wasn’t aware that I was ‘dark’ until people started to point it out. The earliest and (only) compliment I remember when I was 14 was when a boy referred to me as ‘black beauty’.

2. I considered this an insult. I smiled through it but I remember going home that evening and crying because that was the day it dawned on me that I wasn’t like my other black girlfriends. I always figured I was the same but this time I looked at myself and well, I was darker and because of this I concluded that I was not as appealing and I was not to be chosen.

3. The general theme of my teen years was ‘She’s pretty for a dark girl’ - as though it reiterated that darker skinned girls were not typically easy on the eye and I reminded myself of this.

(Puts on thick eyeliner - to be prettier for a dark girl)

(Begs mother for expensive weaves - to be prettier for a dark girl)

(Photoshops skin lighter in photographs - to be prettier for a dark girl)

(Becomes the life of the party - to be prettier for a dark girl)

(Settles for every boy who offers a little attention - to be prettier for a dark girl [because humans often want you when somebody else does or when somebody else wants you])

(Starves self - to be prettier for a black girl)

and so on and so forth.

4. Half of my family is Zambian. I have these aunts and cousins they call ‘the coloreds’ because of their bright yellow skin. I was always envious and borderline resentful of their skin tone. How come they had it and I didn’t? Only as I grew older did they offer me their secret; bleaching creams. Since they were teenagers these women had been lightening their skin (to be prettier for a dark girl). It only made me more sad in mine.

5. I remember my first (real) love. I always thought he was lying when he called me beautiful. I always thought he was performing when we stared at me the way he did but looking back, he really meant it. I’m so grateful for him.

6. The celebration of black girl magic and melanin is quite literally the highlight of my life thus far. And though it might seem shallow, and also ironic, to place the bulk of self-love and self-acceptance in the way people view you, or the way in which you perceive that they view you, understand -

It Has Taken Me About 10 Years To Learn To Love My Skin