On Monday 19th January the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will be premièring the documentary Light Girls in which actresses such as Raven Symone and Erica Hubbard reveal the reasons why many women of a lighter complexion in the industry feel obligated to result to darkening their skin.
I found this very interesting yet somewhat ironic. While some women result to tanning in an attempt to appear darker, others all over the world, turn to bleaching their skin to lighten their complexion. Somehow women of colour (both of African and Asian decent) often seem to be unhappy with the skin, hair, body that we are in. Just yesterday Miss Universe Ghana Abena Appiah posted a stunning image of herself accompanied by rather significant words:
Hello young girls around the world! Growing up was hard for me because I went through so much, I was bullied, teased, beaten by my colleagues, called ugly oh you name it. I almost bleached my beautiful dark skin because people laughed that I was too dark, I was never comfortable with myself because people made me feel like I wasn’t good enough, I looked in the mirror one day and I screamed “NOOO”! why do I have to let people bring me down?? “Why do I have to let people control my life and continue to make me unhappy? Why?. This was very hard for me, but with time and the help, love and encouragement from my mum I was able to gain my self confidence back slowly. From there, my sister’s, I became a fighter not for my self but for you!
How moving. It very much reminded me of Lupita Nyong’o’s speech last year for Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon where she conveyed a powerful message to young girls unhappy with the colour of their skin. These are testaments that I’m sure most women of colour can relate to, and I am realising that this is not limited just to those of us who are darker.
This leads to the question of “why?” I would say that is due primarily to the impact of the media and society itself which has its far reaching origin in colonialism. But more important that asking “why?” is the question of “how?” How can we eradicate generations of indoctrination? How do we teach women (and indeed men) of colour to love who they are for all they are, flaws and all?
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