It took me years to accept the color of my skin. I vividly remember how emotional it was for me when a “boy” I once dated called it off due to my skin color being darker than his and may not be accepted in his family because of it. I was haunted by his words for quite a while. The fact is; it was not the first time that I was made to feel that some things might not be within my reach just because I did not look a certain way. There were subtle signs/gibes from childhood that made me realize that due to a genetic “accident”, I should probably stand a few paces behind other girls who happen to have a fairer complexion. At that time, all my achievements, years of education, musical training, and other talents seem negligible. I was reduced to a color palette on a wall and that one statement he made shook me. At that point, I saw myself as some others have been seeing me – it was truly a revelation. Am I really that dark and if so, was it going to hold me back?
As a human being, it is natural to retaliate and my response to this one incident was to go out of my way to prove to everyone how beautiful I actually was. I spent years of my time and energy trying to prove that I was indeed attractive in spite of my brown skin. I did some modeling, participated in social functions, and I was the well-liked girl in college minus the “mean girl syndrome.” And after all this, it took me some time to understand there was no changing someone’s perspective of me regardless of how hard I worked to be successful. There comes a very low point in one’s life when you look around and see that the only individual that will value “you” for “being you” is in fact, “yourself.”
We as women have a strong tendency to discount our so-called imperfections by being the perfectionist in other areas of our lives. However, the fact remains that the color of our skin, no matter what shade of brown it be is an integral part of who we are. There is no discounting for your person – you are who you are.
As years went by, I learned a lot about myself. I discovered who I really am. I realized I was tired of trying to be. I just wanted to be. Now, I am a woman who finds intellectual and emotional fulfillment in my every day life. The boy who once hurt my feelings was simply a temporary wave in the ocean of my life. As a person who spent parts of her life trying to be something other than herself, I can tell you first hand that this is one mission impossible (even Tom Cruise can’t save) and it is damn exhausting.
There comes a day where you will find yourself sitting on the floor thinking, “this is it, I’m done, and no more!” The moment that follows this, is when you look at yourself in the mirror and see the “Brown Girl” that is and not the slightly lighter shade of brown that could be. What can I say, I stopped using the infamous Fair & Lovely skin lightening cream, refused to sit in the shade while everyone played in the sun, and I began to use Indian spices (hint hint, turmeric) to cook rather than lather on my face like it was cake-icing. Finally, I understand and accept that what will bring shine to my complexion are not the fancy foundations that I find nor the beauty facials I receive. But, it is the smile on my lips and the sparkle in my eye.
With that said, I, the “Brown Girl” learned to embrace the color of my skin and accept it just as it is. Brown is not my color, it is who I am, it is my pride, it is my pledge, it is my pleasure, it is the essence that flows through me…