Why Dark Skin Girls Should Love Their Skin

By Manuela Domingos

I come from an African family. Growing up, bleaching was normal. I had at least one family member who bleached their skin to the point where you could vividly tell that their skin was bleached. Their hands were seemingly way darker than the rest of their bodies, the skin on their faces an awkward yellowish tint. I recall a younger me always wondering to myself why they felt the need to bleach their skin? Old photos of relatives in their natural skin tone always surprised me. Before, their skin, in my opinion, was way better than their bleached skin. Why did they feel the need to brighten it?

It didn’t stop there. At times, the neighborhood kids got scolded for playing outdoors for too long. I had a friend whose mother would allow her to play outdoors only for 30 minutes in fear that her daughter would get darker. Dark skin was stigmatized, and subconsciously this played a role in how I perceived my skin at a young age.

I may not have been out rightly distasteful of my dark skin, but certain experiences growing up showed me an unfortunate side of the reality of my world. This played a major role in my confidence. Lighter was seen as better. People boasted because they were of lighter complexion. If you were dark, or seemingly “too dark” you weren’t pretty enough. If you were “lucky enough” to be pretty and dark, you were “pretty for a dark skinned girl.” I was told these very words at least once in my 21 years of existence, and I have never taken this as a compliment.

Certain experiences growing up showed me an unfortunate side of the reality of my world.

It all begins in the home. Mothers, please teach your daughters to love themselves. Tell them that it’s okay to be chocolate, and that chocolate comes in all shapes and shades and that each one is just as sweet. Tell them that dark skin is just as beautiful as light skin, no shade is superior than the other, and that the beauty of this world allows us to all be uniquely different. Show them that they’re not “lesser” or perceived as “unworthy” because of their skin, but rather that they were specifically hand tailored to be beautiful in their own way.

I love my skin. Dark is beautiful, light is beautiful. I wish others would know the same.

Keep up with Manuela on Instagram, @_manuelad!