Beauty, No Matter The Color
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and inspired by a recent episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass on Colorism with Iyanla Vanzant, I felt led to write a post about the implications as women and a people when we fail to see the beauty in ourselves and one another, no matter the color. Colorism, is a form of discrimination and/or prejudice in which human beings are treated or treat one another differently based on the social meanings attached to skin color. Colorism has deep roots founded in slavery and perpetuates the lie that the lighter your skin color, the more beautiful or better you are. Dark skinned African-American women have been told for centuries that they aren’t pretty enough or good enough, even though they are more than enough. Colorism does not see true beauty or the content of one’s character, but rather only hate and seeks to rear its ugly head of power in its own deficit of self-esteem and self-worth. As I watched Oprah’s Lifeclass, my heart was broken in particular for one young woman’s inability to see her own beauty and the beauty of other women that resembled her because of her darker skin. No matter what anyone told her, she didn’t believe she was beautiful. She had been fed the lie of Colorism since her early years as a child and couldn’t hear the truth of her beauty no matter how loud it yelled in her ears as a young adult.
Anytime we feed a lie, we lose the foundation of truth and the inability to see and hear truth correctly. When we breed Colorism, we get more young girls (and boys) who can’t see who their greatness and potential. We’ve all heard the phrase “haters gonna hate.” And that’s exactly what Colorism does and is, it’s a hater that hates and thrives off of holding people down and keeping them in the emotional bondage of low self-esteem. Because Colorism is insecure, it wants everyone else to be insecure too. Colorism skews the reality of beauty and a healthy self-love. Scale colorism, and we have a mass group of people that will be broken at their core. If we can’t fully love and accept ourselves, then how can we ever fully and genuinely love and accept others? I’ve found in life that when you truly love yourself, it’s hard to hate another.
I feel fortunate to have grown up in a household where color and culture were celebrated and self-esteem had nothing to do with our skin tone. We were taught to take pride in ourselves simply because we were human beings placed on this earth. We were taught to be kind and loving to all people and treat others with kindness and respect because everyone deserves love and happiness. We possessed the ability to see the beauty in all people no matter how dark or light. I am grateful that I am surrounded by beautiful women that are both dark and light (and everything in between), and that beauty has no color barriers in my world.
However, I know all to well the barriers that color has in the world around me. Simply pick up any of the leading fashion and beauty magazines and count the women of color. Count the leading ladies with darker skin that capture the hearts of the leading men of Hollywood in movies and television shows. It’s a sad and telling truth of the ugly head of Colorism, whether consciously or unconsciously perpetuated. I am glad that it has gotten a little better over the years but we still have a a long way to go. It starts in our hearts and minds and translates into our words and actions. My hope is that we begin to celebrate real women of all colors and that we don’t exclude one group of women for the elevation of another group of women. There is room for us all. My hope as that we aren’t drawn solely to images of women with lighter skin but to women with darker skin as well. Let’s become more intentional about the images of beauty that we propagate and gravitate towards. My hope is that we see the beauty in ourselves and others around us, no matter the color.
And to those that haven’t heard it in a while simply because of the color of your skin, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL…VERY BEAUTIFUL actually!
We will continue to be committed to drawing inspiration for makeup, hair, and fashion looks from women of all colors and urge the brands we work with to do so as well. For another powerful read, check out this article on privilege and breaking racial silence over at Wife. Mom. Superwoman. It was written last summer and every bit applicable today. I’ve been wanting to find a way to weave it in to OBT that actually makes sense and I think MLK Jr. Day is the perfect day and way. Read it with an open and understanding heart, and experience the beauty that will come pouring in.