I Love Being Unapologetically "Dark"

I Love Being Unapologetically "Dark"

Not everyone can have the melanin I have.
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Growing up as an African American female, I have learned that there are definitely challenges that no one can really prepare you for. There are some lessons you have to learn on your own, like when it comes to loving who you are, it comes from within, and not what other people think.

When I was born, I definitely didn’t look anything like I do now. I looked like some sort of Southeast Asian baby, which makes me question if those are really my baby pictures, or if there was a brief baby mix up that my parents never told me about. As I got older, I started to get my darker complexion. When I was younger, I would hear comments about my dark skin color, but that didn’t really matter to me. When you’re young, you somehow know and accept that everyone is made differently, so having darker skin wasn’t a big deal to me.

It wasn’t until I got older that I realized being dark had a negative connotation.

Going on family vacations was always a norm for my family. My brother and I were blessed enough to go on annual family vacations during the summer, in which we’d spend hours at the pool, beach, or anywhere outside. To say we got dark during the summer would be a huge understatement. I say this because the first thing people would say to us would be, “Wow, ya’ll got really dark” as if we didn’t already know.

During the winter we both look like dark chocolate Hershey bars so just imagine what we look like during the summer.

When people would comment on the shade of our skin, it wasn’t what they said that bothered me; it was the look of disgust that followed their words. I always got confused as to why it was such a horrific thing to be dark, but when you’re young you’d rather think more about how much fun you had while getting dark rather than people’s weird reactions.

Even though I received negative remarks about being dark when I was younger, I didn’t really think much of my skin color.

I didn’t think much of it until high school when there was some unknown consensus that how light or dark you were was the determining factor of how pretty people thought you were, which I always thought was crazy because I’m a daddy’s girl and I have always been pretty. In my high school, people would shame dark skinned girls for their complexion, but would admire the white girls who were spending legit money to try and say, “I’m almost as dark as you!”

As I got older, I finally understood the disgusted and confused look people gave me when they told me I was getting darker in the summer.

People were confused as to why I was out during the summer because they expected me to stay in the house so I wouldn’t get darker. Or, if I stayed in the house during summer people assumed that it was because I was trying not to get darker when it was actually because I'd rather stay inside with air conditioning by myself versus being surrounded by people I don't really care for in the heat.

Can you really fault me for that?

Anyway, being dark has never been something I have been ashamed of. Now, some people think differently about the shade of my skin, but that is their issue. I have always been happy about my skin color because...

1. It’s beautiful.

And 2. I can literally wear ANY color without having to worry about if it will clash or wash me out or whatever other issues people worry about.

As I enter my last year of college, I notice that some people don’t have the luxury of being secure with their skin tone. I witness people worried about getting darker, so they stay in the house. Or they believe that sunscreen will save them from being a shade darker (it doesn’t). It makes me sad that people think the only way to be beautiful is to be lighter, and it isn’t true. What makes me even more upset is that it isn’t their fault.

Actors and actresses with darker skin for some reason are always playing the stereotypical roles of black people that are less flattering, or they are playing supporting roles. I mean even in black films, it’s the same.

Think of Tyler Perry movies, the lead protagonist is always a stunning light skinned actor or actress, while the best friend or antagonist is always darker. Yeah, Tyler Perry may have an all black cast, but there is still discrimination within shades. There is still that bias that is sending a message that the lighter the skin, the prettier you’ll be or the more successful you’ll be. And although that message is being sent, it doesn’t mean that message is true.

College is the time that you get to meet all different types of people with different backgrounds, which is my favorite part. This past year I met an African American who lived in Europe for most of his life, and moved back to the states in high school. During our time of getting to know each other, I quickly learned his passion for tennis. It was something he always talked about and took so much pride in.

While sharing his passion with me, I learned that he had at one time been hesitant to play because he was worried about getting darker. Learning this I was completely caught off guard because someone legitimately considered giving up something they loved, in order to entertain the idea that being dark is a bad thing.

Thankfully, he realized how wrong that idea is because he continued to play tennis. His once insecurity is his most embraced feature because it doesn’t make him who he is, but is a part of his uniqueness. His decision to do what he loves has impacted many of his teammates; leading him to experiences and people that he’d otherwise never meet.

With skin you’re insecure with you have two choices: be the beautiful that you think other people want you to be or be the beautiful you already are.

You don’t need to shame yourself for being dark by staying in the house, bleaching your skin, or putting yourself down. Each color is unique, light or dark. It is important to show people why the color of your skin is alluring, why your shade is special. My darkness is glamorous, and if want to lay outside in the sun by the beach and get darker than I will, because that just means I will rock the colors I choose to wear even more gracefully.


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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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How Growing Up In A Culturally Diverse Environment Changed Me

We are all human.

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I can proudly say that I am from Montgomery County, Maryland, more specifically from the city of Gaithersburg. According to a 2018 study by WalletHub, three of the top 10 culturally diverse cities in the United States are located in Montgomery County. Those cities include Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Silver Spring.

I have lived in Montgomery County ever since the day I was born. Growing up in such a culturally and economically diverse area has educated me with the value of accepting differences. Since I was exposed to an assortment of cultures at such a young age, I hardly ever noticed differences among my peers and I. The everyday exposure to various cultures taught me to embrace diversity and look beyond appearances such as the color of someone's skin. I was able to open my eyes to other ideas, lifestyles, and backgrounds.

Ever since I was a child, I was not only taught to welcome different cultures and ethnic groups, but I was always surrounded by them. From my elementary to high school years, every classroom was filled with racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. Coming from someone apart of the Caucasian race, I was often the minority in school. Not everyone is as fortunate to experience such a multicultural society.

Since being from Montgomery County, I have grown up as a person with an open mind and strong values. Diversity has not only taught me to be more mindful but has also helped me become more of a respectful person. Learning about other cultures and backgrounds is essential to help societies strive, but experiencing it firsthand is something that no one can teach you.

After being in countless culturally diverse situations, I have been provided with many lifelong advantages. I was taught to be inclusive, fair, and understanding. I am able to be comfortable and accepting of all cultures and religions. After growing up in such a culturally diverse environment, I now develop culture shock when I'm not surrounded by diversity.

Our world is filled with numerous different kinds of cultures, ethnic groups, and religions. Being raised in a diverse environment has prepared me for what the real world looks like and taught me exactly what equality means. As I was growing up, I was always taught to be nonjudgemental of others and to embrace all individuals for who they are.

Diversity molds our identities. Every individual is unique, but each of us shares at least one trait — we are all human. Who would rather experience a homogeneous society, when they could constantly be learning about other cultures and building diverse relationships? When growing up, I never realized how impacted and truly thankful I would be to of had the opportunities to experience diversity each day. So here is a long overdue thank you to my parents for choosing to raise me in such an incredibly diverse place all of my life.

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