#HERstory I'm Cute 'For a Dark Girl'
If I had a nickle for every time someone told me I was cute "to be dark," I would have at least enough money for the Pop Tarts in that above picture. I'm an 80's baby from Louisiana; looking back on my childhood, I can understand why black people sought out European features as the standard for beauty. If an entire people were stolen from their country, and everything from their religion to their real names were removed, remixed, and downright destroyed, one would likely assimilate to whatever wouldn't get them beat. But in the information age, almost two decades into the new millennium, why is it still a "thing?"
As a radio personality, I've fallen victim to "thumb thugs" a time or two. And though the insults are always slightly varied, a couple insults are constant: she's ugly, she's black. So am I ugly because I'm "black?" Also, why is my complexion spewed out as an insult, instead of matter-of-factly? I even did a "So Gone Challenge" about it. Wanna hear it?
Where I'm from, if you weren't "light skinned with long hair" you weren't pretty. And if someone did think you were pretty, they surely wouldn't say it too loudly. My self-esteem was so low that I lost my virginity to a guy who said "I don't know why everybody says you're ugly. You're not ugly." He never even called me pretty. One time for Jeremy.
I founded Grinding In Real Life not only as a means to show girls that they can be whatever they want to be, but to show them they can succeed in life looking just the way they do. On my journey to do so, I've run across so many girls who've said they felt ugly because they were dark skinned or had "nappy" hair. Ridiculed because they "look like slaves." Imagine being ridiculed simply because of how you were born. Unfortunately, not many of us have to imagine.
Perhaps if we were shown images of African people pre-slavery, or current images other than starving children with flies all over them, our kids would have pride instilled in them. Instead, we're taught that the biggest continent on Earth is full of poor dying children, women with breasts hanging to their kneecaps, and mud huts. And black American women? Long, straight weave to their ankles, thin noses, and butterscotch complexion. Obviously I can't bash a woman for her lighter complexion, that defeats the purpose. But why are these the only images we're shown? Then when a dark girl rises through the ranks and is thrust into the spotlight, she's celebrated as a dark skinned girl who made it.
Will there be a time that it's normal? It's bad enough that women, and black people in general, are still making firsts. I generally think I'm pretty, but a certain week out the month, my confidence shifts. I was talking to my ex, and he said "you have very strong African features, but you're not ugly." Shouldn't these "African features" make me the most beautiful black girl he knows? Nope. He went on to say "I don't think you fit western beauty standards." Sadly, I think he's right. I've been called ugly more times that I care to count, but equally insulting is when people say "you're a beautiful black girl." What they mean is, "wow.....there are dark girls who are pretty!" Neither one feels good. Lil Kim said the reason she's had so many surgeries on her face is because men always cheated on her with women with more European standards. Do you remember how fine 1998 Lil Kim was?? (I can't say I stand by the outfit, but we can all agree she was so pretty.)
If Kelly Rowland had made "Formation" instead of Beyonce, would it have had the same effect? I like my negro nose and Jackson 5 nostrils too. And this natural hair of mine has been in "baby hair and Afro" since 2011. Since everyone wants to be "woke" now, do yourself a favor and open your eyes. Beauty has always come in all shapes, sizes, and complexions. Cause I'm cute.