What it's like to be "Cute for a Dark-Skinned Girl"
It's impossible to dig into this post without revisiting the ugly scars of slavery; the primary concept in this context is Willie Lynchism. For those that are unfamiliar, Willie Lynch constructed a letter to other slave owners that provided insight to ensure division among the slaves by using their complexions, hair texture, and other factors. This may have been one of the most influential implementations as it is a form of slavery that continues to exist. There's nothing wrong with preferences. However, there is something wrong when a person's physical appearance causes personal bias. I have dark skin. Throughout my 30 years, I have experienced the transition from being a "dark-skinned girl" to "being cute for a dark-skinned girl." Now, being "cute" for a dark-skinned girl is a much more pleasant experience than just being dark-skinned. Frankly, there are some other complexions that make it seem as if being dark-skinned is a curse or misfortune. Neither of which is so. Complimenting someone of darker hues by telling them they are cute within their own box or glass ceiling is really not a compliment. It's a subliminal message that dark skins are naturally unpleasant to the eye with a hint of congratulations. The congrats is a cherry on top because it insinuates that that while you are not quite "pretty" your features helped you when compared to the greater percentage of others who are undesirable simply because they're darker complected. Although it isn't the case for me, I believe the "curse" of being dark-skinned is what drives some women to self-hatred. As a child, I experienced it. I wanted to be lighter because I thought "light" was pretty. It was that way for many years until I saw Lauryn Hill with her coarse hair and dark tint. When I saw her there was a mental transformation. I came to appreciate my features that complimented my skin: my eyes, high cheek bones, full lips, keen nose-whole nine. Being "cute for a dark-skinned girl" has challenged me to first evaluate my character because a beautiful personality beats all. Second, it has challenged me to consider others' opinions without always internalizing them. Third, it's encouraged me to encourage and compliment others. You never know what others may struggle with. I too have been a victim to Willie Lynchism. There was a time that I totally disregarded others who were light-skinned because I felt they assumed they were better looking. I glorified being dark-skinned because it was what I identified with. This was one of the very goals of the letter. As a dark-skinned cutie, I continue to encounter people in 2016 who assume they are better looking, better qualified, and frankly have the right to say what they feel about dark skin because they are lighter. The difference is I don’t go away feeling less of a person or less attractive because of their dispositions. In fact, over the years, I have begun to venture away from boxes. I experiment with hair styles and colors that ideally would be untouched from some who are stuck in the groove of their physical appearance. In all humility, I’ll be the first to tell you that my skin makes mustard, burnt orange, magenta, royal blue, royal purple, and turquoise pop! I’m ok with needing a camera flash in darker rooms! Being cute for a dark skin girl is an everyday experience, but just as much as anything else its what you make of it. There aren’t many “Lauryn Hill”s left. In fact, as time progresses I suspect that self-hatred increases. Self-love and acceptance are better embraced sooner than later. One thing for sure: your shape, size, hair length and etc may change, but your complexion will not. Might as well love the skin you’re in and show the world that beauty doesn’t come with categories or stipulations.