I have come a long way from my younger days where I used hated the way I looked, wishing I looked more european or lighter skinned…but this hate stemmed from the people most closest to me my family members and my community. I won’t name and shame them but it’s them that had a problem with my skin colour and made it known. It was bad enough to see dark skinned women like me be ill treated and underrepresented in the media and society but to have your community and family hate you for your darker complexion was even more heart breaking. I remember a time where I was told by a family member “your a pretty girl, but you’d be much prettier if you where a few shade lighter” they proceeded to give me skin lightening products in order to get what THEY wanted…not me. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me I thought because they are older and wiser they know what they are talking about. I thought to myself if I had only been born lighter maybe she and they(community) would stop being so mean to me about the way I looked. But it all changed when I realised there was nothing wrong with me but something wrong with them.
The self love I started when I became more exposed to Sri Lankan, Tamil Rapper M.I.A. to see a girl just like me quite literally. She was a Sri Lankan, Tamil ,dark skinned, out spoken, head strong with a idgaf attitude and stood up to what she believed in, went against societal norms and she wasn’t your typical South Asian girl anddd must I add she had a wicked fashion sense. I knew I had found an icon to look up to one that represented dark skinned south Asian girls like me everywhere. I also found myself hanging around more with Black girls and boys I became more aware of their communities. They seemed to love all the things my community didn’t like about me….first thing they would point out was my dark skin then comment on how beautiful they thought my complexion was….It was so odd and refreshing to here people love what the people most close to me despised. The black communities took me as their own and saw me more of their own more than my community did. So it’s important that I give credit where it is due because had it not been for my black friends/community I don’t think I would have grown to love myself the way I have today. Not to say that these communities don’t have issues with colourism and european beauty ideals haunting them…because they do and I have seen my beautiful black female friend suffer the most from this.
My point is my self love came from seeing women that looked like me on the screen and from a community that wasn’t one I was originally from. But no way on this earth can I say certain family members or the South Asian Community helped me to love myself. If anything they had tried to destroy me.
I sob in the shadows of these monsters, I cry in uncanny silence. The colour of dirt, The colour of filth.
The root of disease and the face of ‘ugly.‘
The melanin burns off of my skin And into the walls of my heart. The little black moles and freckles across my face
form maps and roadways Leading
to the fresh imprints of tears
And the insecurities injected into my blood.
Everything has changed.
Suddenly, I saw from different eyes, The insult and insecurity blurred out by the gospel truth.
Now, my luminescence annihilates those monsters, my laugh reverberates and never dies. The colour of soil, The colour of the earth, The giver of life, the foundation of growth.
The melanin bounces off my skin And glitters like gold. The little black moles and freckles all across my face
form constellations and galaxies Indestructible, immortal, ever growing, eternal, For it thrives and survives on the scrunch in my nose And the diamonds in my eyes when I laugh.
You say I’m cute 'for a brown girl’? I say I’m cute. That’s it. You say I’m pretty 'for a dark girl’? I say I’m pretty. That’s it.