Friday, February 6, 2015

What To Do If You're Not Light Skinned

Hola, folks!

Surprised to be getting a post from me on Friday? Did you think I was going to let the week pass by without posting on the blog?

If you did, I don't blame you.

It's not as if it hasn't happened before :)

And not helping the matter, this week's post is another "cheat" post of sorts; it's a guest post I recently wrote for Bella Naija magazine on the topic of light-skinned and dark-skinned girls. If you're one of those who thinks this topic has been overworked and stressed beyond measure, I understand.

With that in mind, you should know that I didn't write this post for you.

I wrote this post for the gal that still has a hang-up about the dark/light girls debacle. I wrote this post for the gal that has been significantly impacted by the discrimination she's received at some point in her life due to the color/shade of her skin. I wrote this post for the gal that still gets visited by the thoughts of "color insecurity". I wrote this post for the girl that is ready to buy that bleaching cream and get started on her color transformation. I wrote this post for the gal who wishes someone would write about it and lovingly share with her how to get past the distraction of physical insecurities in her life and move into her great life of purpose. I wrote this post to tell the gal dealing with this that she is not the only one who has dealt with this and I am an example of someone she can reference. I wrote this post to help.

Please keep that in mind when reading (from some of the comments on the original post on BN, it seems I should have stated this disclaimer there as well because a few folks completely missed the point of the post; not surprised though - folks are always ready to spark without full information lol :)

Anyhow, enough of the disclaimer. The post is below for your viewing pleasure. If you enjoy it, please leave a comment below (what side are you on with this?) and share it with the women in your life!


Light-skinned folks are having all the fun.

They’re invited to the best parties, they’re given first dibs at jobs, they’re toasted by all the handsome men/women, they’re the favorites in their families…they’re even getting into heaven first.

It’s brutal, abi?

So, what are you to do if you’re one of the unlucky, dark-skinned folks that have been reduced to a life of disregard and misery?

Stop complaining and shut up.

Yes, I said stop complaining and SHUT UP.

Please, it’s NOT THAT SERIOUS.

I recently watched the documentary “Light Girls” on the OWN Channel (I also watched the previous documentary “Dark Girls” a few months back) and in it several women considered light-skinned (some popular, some not) discussed the hurt and pain they experienced growing up, mainly from their darker-skinned counterparts, because they were of a fairer complexion. I watched the whole documentary all the way through and then something very interesting happened at the end of it.

I laughed.

No; not at the women. Their stories are real and their pain is real so that wasn’t funny to me.

I laughed at the absurdity of the situation.

Growing up, I considered being light-skinned an “advantage”. For the girls, I thought it meant they were automatically “prettier” than darker-skinned gals and would be preferred by the opposite sex and society at large. For the guys, I thought it meant they were the “pretty boys” and token fellas. I assumed growing up light-skinned was a “sweet” experience and anyone who had that was lucky.

To a certain degree, I was right. I saw the Western media’s evident applause and promotion of African-American women (and women of other ethnicities) that were as close to the white spectrum as possible. I saw the way schoolmates went “gaga” when a new, pretty, light-skinned female student transferred into our class. I saw how people I knew would comment about how “fine” someone’s child was because he or she was “light”. I saw how certain black guys in college thirsted for light-skinned girls and refused to date dark-skinned girls because they felt the fairer gals were “trophy-material” and would score them extra bragging points with their friends.

I saw all these things.

But, I also saw other things too.

I saw how “slimmer” girls got special attention and preference from males over the “not-so-slim” girls; I also saw this apply in certain industries like the modeling world, TV & film, marketing & promotions, etc).
Regardless of light or dark skin.
I saw how “kids from abroad” got special treatment from teachers in Nigerian schools because they had a foreign accent (I won’t lie, I received this treatment when I returned to Nigeria from England when I was in primary school).
Regardless of light or dark skin.
I saw how those who were white got preference from teachers in college and in the workforce over those who were black. I saw how those white girls/guys who were tanned were considered “hotter” than those white girls/guys who were not tanned.

I still see these things today.

Keeping all that in mind, as well as the fact that the ladies in the Light Girls documentary detailed experiences of physical and sexual abuse because of their fairer skin complexion (one woman shared her story of being forced into human trafficking and had a higher premium on her as a sex slave because she was light-skinned - which was a preference for most of the abusers), I can only come to one conclusion:

It’s not about the odds.

This might sound ridiculous, but in the grand scheme of things, the odds don’t matter.

There are times when the odds will be in your favor (per the fickle opinion of “people”) and there are times when they will not be.

To assume that someone else gets access to a great life and you don’t, simply because they might have it “easier” in one aspect of life, is one of the greatest lies you could ever believe. To assume that your life must look like “his” or “hers” before you can have happiness in your life is one of the greatest lies you could ever believe. To assume that he or she doesn’t have daily battles and struggles in his or her life, just like you, is one of the greatest lies you could ever believe. To assume that her light skin means she’s getting into heaven and your dark skin means you’re not is one of the greatest lies you could ever believe.

There are far worthier factors that will be taken into consideration for heavenly access (but that’s another article for another time:)

When it comes to the light skin versus dark skin debacle, the fact remains the same:

It’s not about the odds.

Your life has been granted to you as a gift.

My life has been granted to me as a gift.

We have the choice not to waste a significant amount of it living under the illusion of the “wrong skin tone”.

There’s no such thing.

Your skin tone is yours for the taking, just like your life is – to be embraced and enjoyed with gratitude.

You can choose to or not.

I can choose to or not.

Now I can’t promise you that the odds will always be in your favor but I can promise that YOU (and I) have a specific God-given purpose that we were born to accomplish and in that service lays true joy and fulfillment; which grants us a great life.

As for whether you’re light or dark-skinned (skinny or not-so-skinny; oyibo accent or no oyibo accent), that is a small matter compared to whether you are living in alignment with God’s Will for your life or not.

Yes, it is frustrating to know that sometimes our color might be the reason we’re discriminated against and treated unfairly but the truth is that it’s not just an issue for dark-skinned girls; it’s an issue for light-skinned girls too, in their own respect.

Once upon a time, I wished I could’ve been one of the “light girls”. I wanted to be one of the “lucky ones”. And let’s never forget, I wanted to have “good hair”.

Today, I laugh at myself.

I laugh at myself for being so worked up over nothing. I laugh at myself for not seeing the beauty in the rich complexion I’ve always been blessed with – I’m 100% DARK-SKINNED; I embrace it and continue growing to love it more each day. I laugh at myself for desperately waiting on the boys that “toasted” the light-skinned girls to “toast” me too so I would feel good (clearly I had too much time on my hands; I could have used that time to write). I laugh at myself for actually thinking light-skinned girls had life “easy” when in reality, they had their own headache to worry about.

See how funny (or not-so-funny) life is?

The key to rising above all of these “issues” is to remove our self-worth from our self-image (whatever shade, shape, or accent it comes in) and to place our self-worth in our GOD-given purpose.

That’s the only place we’ll ever find our true identity and have our shot at a great life.

However, access to that great life is dependent on if we live each day ruled by our “issues” or beyond our “issues”.

The question now is,

How will YOU choose to live?
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  1. This is beautiful!! Love to read all over again.Keep it coming girl!

    1. Thank you for reading, Florence! I'm happy it resonated with you. I'll do my best to keep the posts coming :)

  2. Africans let us discuss here is there any necessity of changing our natural color?

    1. Lol, thank you for reading the post, John. The topic is one that has been of much debate...I take it you're on the side of keeping one's natural color as-is :)

  3. So well said, I have nothing more to add
    I will try and reference this post in the future, if and when I decide to watch "Light Girls". Wish we'd quit being hung up by self-constructed barriers as ethnic minority's women, and just embrace the fact we have to jump higher hurdles than others and fave that music


    1. Thank you for commenting, Onyxsta! "I have nothing more to add" made me laugh lol

      Girl, where were you when I was growing up? The self-constructed barriers were endless! I'm still working on disciplining a few now lol. Clearly you already figured it out - I should have been hanging around you :)