The complexion battle among brown people is nothing new but most documentaries, articles, books and studies about the color complex address the perspective of darker-skinned individuals, and with good reason.
From the separation of house and field slaves during slavery to the numerous bleaching creams that are marketed around the world, dark skin has traditionally been regarded as “inferior” by society and light skin and European features have been put on a pedestal.
I have always loved my brown skin and quite frankly never had a desire to be lighter. I did however grow up with my sister who is light-skinned. For years, she was praised for her beauty and her fair skin.
It was clear though that my sister was never really happy being light-skinned. She didn’t feel she had won the genetic lottery or was superior because of her complexion. I was motivated to ask her more about this and was surprised to learn how deep her angst about her complexion went.
“I wish I was darker,” she explained. “People automatically think I’m stuck up and that I can get anything I want because I’m light-skinned and its so annoying because it isn’t true. When I am around some black women, I get a vibe that they think that I am not “black enough.”
As she continued, I began to wonder why I had let society influence me into thinking that light-skinned women were the happiest people in the planet? It wasn’t until I heard her perspective that I began to understand that the color complex effects both sides of the spectrum in a negative way.
And my sister’s not the only one. “I have never liked being light, I am always mistaken for being Caucasian,” says Valerie, a 24 year-old law student from Detroit. “All my life I have been praised for looking like a race that I am not, and I get the most shocking reactions when I tell people I am 100% African-American. I have always had a desire to look ‘Blacker,” she says.
On one side of the divide, you have dark-skinned women who are made to feel less-than-beautiful, inferior and rejected because of their complexion and the other side reveals women who are presumed to be stuck up and have to deal with people questioning their “blackness” because they have a lighter skin tone.
Let’s move on once and for all. Whether you are light or dark-skinned, society will always give you a reason to wish you were something that you are not. We are living in a society where darker women aren’t light enough and light skinned women aren’t dark enough. It’s time for us to rise above these prejudices and start appreciating the diversity of our beauty instead of attacking each other and perpetuating the divide.
Have you ever experienced or witnessed the other side of the color complex?