Born and raised in Minnesota since 1998, it's been a good home to me. Minnesota can be bone-chilling cold for about five months of the year, but it has its pros. There's Mall of America, which is gigantic and a wonderland for children. Minnesota also is the "Land of Ten Thousand Lakes", which comes in handy during the summer. Growing up in Minnesota has been interesting, to say the least, but it's home.
Being raised in a predominantly white state has been a journey and roller coaster or two. I've always looked different from the other children in my class, my friends, in my neighborhood, at the grocery store, but I always looked like someone when I was at home. The ability to have an individual to relate to as a child is fundamental and I felt like I didn't necessarily have that.
To put this bluntly, I was around white people all the time as a child and seeing a curly-haired brown child wasn't a daily occurrence. I just want to say that I have nothing against white people, but I'm stating the facts of my childhood. Both of my parents are immigrants with accents and as a child, all the other children in my class didn't have immigrant parents, which made me ashamed.
As I got older and middle school slowly approached, I really started to notice my race in comparison to the others. Middle school is tough and everyone could probably agree, but that's when I began to feel ugly. Most to not all of the girls in my grade were probably blondes or brunettes with bone-straight hair and looked the same, which was they were all white. I'm not saying there weren't children of different ethnicities, but not too much.
At that specific time in middle school when everyone started "dating", I realized it was the majority of white girls that most of the boys in my grade were going for. The straight-blonde haired skinny white girls that they all liked and girls like me, nothing. I'm not being butt-hurt that boys didn't like me in middle school because I'll be honest, I wasn't necessarily the cutest twelve-year-old. I had acne, weird hair, an odd style, and recently learned how to use make-up, which was a disaster.
Back to the real point and not my tragic looks as a middle schooler, but I developed this idea that "white" was pretty and women of my skin tone weren't. You see that's totally wrong, but I didn't realize that yet while stuck in a bubble of minimal diversity. Everywhere you go, in concerns to magazines, Instagram, and television, white women are always considered the romantic lead and the "pretty" girl. Women like me, they were barely given attention in comparison to their white counterparts.
I've struggled with the fact for years that certain aspects of myself that all results back to my ethnicity is the reason why I'll never be wanted or loved by men. My hair isn't long enough, straight enough, blonde, skinny enough, not curvy enough. Whenever I end up developing crushes on boys, it always goes back to the thought of "He'll never like a girl like me" or by that, a black girl. I've always seen girls that are lighter-skin than I be lusted upon by men and barely women of my skin color or darker.
It's a work in progress and I'm really trying to actually feel beautiful in my own skin, in my brown skin. I'm twenty-one years old and I can't remember a day where I looked at myself in the mirror and wasn't depending on the affirmation of men to feel "pretty". I'll never be blonde or white with long-hair, but I'll always be me. Everyone is allowed to their own preferences and I might not be that to each man that I "like". So, I guess I have to be happy in my skin that I was born in before it's too late because self-affirmation is crucial.