I have a number of guilty pleasures; one of them is going on Bellanaija and looking at wedding pictures, because the pictures are gorgeous. Yesterday, while at work, I decide I need a little mental break and begin to peruse the wedding pictures. The comments on the wedding albums endlessly amuse me so I always read them.
Well, yesterday, I was struck with a realization, whenever the wedding involved a dark skinned bride there were inevitably comments like “how nice to see a dark pretty bride”, “black is beautiful”, “this bride is prettier than a number of light skinned brides I have seen” and the list goes on. Such comments are quite troubling. First off, very few “black” people are actually black. So even though I am light skinned, the phrase black is beautiful still applies to me, but you wouldn’t know from some of these comments. I resent the assumption that it only applies to the darker skinned Africans. Secondly why are Nigerians, African Americans, people in general caught up with the idea of skin color? Why does beauty have to be qualified by skin color? Why can’t the comments simply be “what a beautiful bride”?
I guess I feel strongly about this because of my experiences. In high school multiple people took it upon themselves to tell me that I am ONLY pretty because I am light skinned. I came to the states and expected things to change, nope. I was told that black men do not like skinned girls because we think we are all that. I also got tongue lashed by a group of highly educated and cultured African American women for making a joke about not wanting to get tanned (because we were sitting outside in 100 degree weather). They all informed me in no uncertain terms that they didn’t want to be light skinned and being dark skinned was better, this conversation lasted for minutes.
On the flip side I have experienced what can be considered “positive” Colorism also. I have been in situations where people have treated me much differently (and better) because of skin color. I have been amazed by the shallowness of these people and insulted by their insinuations that I cannot possibly be 100% Nigerian. These people are ridiculous and should be flogged. But the colorism that has been created cannot be corrected by flipping the pyramid and placing light skinned people at the bottom. It simply has to be eliminated
I was saddened when my cousin was actually very upset that her baby daughter was born dark. This little girl had the prettiest skin ever but her mother could not see that. If this girl grows up internalizing her mother’s ideas it won’t be any surprise if she bleaches her skin. Bleaching is probably one of the saddest consequences of this skin color debate. Its absolute craziness when a girl who is about to get married starts bleaching before her wedding day (this happens). Who are you bleaching for? The man who is already marrying you, your family, friends? Bleaching has destroyed many women’s perfectly beautiful skin and yet it persists among Africans, Latinos and even Asians.
There are definitely more important world issues occurring and the light vs dark skin debate doesn’t keep me up at night. However, I have wanted to write about this issue for a while and the bellanaija comments were my catalyst. I am aware this “movement” of people wanting to give dark skinned women the recognition they deserve stems from a history and world culture that has idolized lighter skinned individuals (Black, White, Asian or Latino) and regarded them as better. I just wish that as a people we would evolve beyond that. Seriously would any of you not love a child because of their skin color? Has anyone been denied a job or school admission because they aren’t light skinned? Has anyone lost good relationships or family because of skin color? I mean are there really any tangible advantages to being a dark or light skinned black person?