For darkskin girls who have considered suicide when black men didn’t think they were beautiful enuf

1 Dec

For my 15th birthday I desperately wanted this Guess Jeans hot pink denim outfit. Tacky…yes I know. But at the time it was so hot! It was dumb expensive and I saved up for it with my part-time pay from the movie theater. The day before I panned to buy it I took my friends to the mall, to the exact rack where my outfit was waiting for me, and showed it to them. One of my friends, who is about my complexion, told me not to buy it. When I asked her why she said I was way too dark to wear that color. I never bought that outfit.

The feeling I felt nearly 10 years ago in that clothing store came back to me recently when I saw the video for Rick Ross’s “Aston Martin Music”. I love the song and listen to it every morning as I ride the train to school. Chrisette Michele’s melodic voice transports me from this silver Metrorail train to my own Aston Martin and gets me right for the day. The video begins with a nappy headed dark-skin girl swiveling her neck like a pro telling a young Rick Ross he aint never gonna grow up and have an Aston Martin. Her attitude can be described as nothing less than ugly. In contrast, sweet curly-haired lighter-skinned girl tells him different. That girl grows up to be his love interest in the video.

Maybe I am putting too much stock in the casting choices made for this video but this image of black beauty is portrayed over and over and over in our daily lives, whether it be through the media or in the sentiments of those around us. As a darker hued honey maybe I notice it more than others, but either way, it is inaccurate and offensive. Now, as an educated black woman, I do not presume to use hip hop music videos as an accurate depiction of myself nor as a measure of my self-worth, however these videos are an aggregate image of my community and I hate seeing my dark-skinned girls represented this way.

Dark skinned girls are constantly portrayed (if we are portrayed at all) as unattractive and our complexion is constantly made to feel like a limitation. How many of us have heard “you’re cute for a dark-skinned girl“? I’ve even heard “you maintain yourself well for a dark-skinned girl” “you dress well for a dark-skinned girl” and “you have pretty hair for a dark-skinned girl”. FOR A DARK SKINNED GIRL…what does that mess even mean?

Rick Ross surely needs to read the Bluest Eye because it is images like this that are giving black women (specifically darker hued sisters) a Pecola complex. Yea I said it…a Pecola complex. For those who do not know, Pecola Breedlove is the main character in Toni Morrison’s award-winning debut novel “The Bluest Eye”. Pecola, is a poor black girl who believes she is ugly because her ideals of beauty, and the ideals of her community,  are based on “whiteness”. The title of the novel comes from Pecola’s desperate desire for blue eyes. Pecola’s desire for blue eyes stems from her belief that no one would love her without them, this desire eventually drives her insane by the end of the novel. Imagine that? Imagine being driven to insanity because the world around you tells you that you aren’t beautiful enough; this is what I call the Pecola Complex.

In hindsight I realize that not only did I let my friend project her ideals of dark skin and beauty onto me that day in the Guess store…but I realized that someone in her life obviously made her feel that her complexion limited her. Not only limited her in what colors she coud wear but it limited her in life.

Today I make clothes for women who see no limits. No limits in life and no limits in what they can wear. Personally, I am contantly wearing the most vibrant colors I can find and this is also reflected in my fabric choices for the clothes I make. But that is not enough. It is when the rest of the world, especially our own community, can see our darker skin as beautiful can we truly radiate.


10 Responses to “For darkskin girls who have considered suicide when black men didn’t think they were beautiful enuf”

  1. bigdreamer December 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    thank you.

  2. Michelle December 1, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    Amazing article. Well written and so poignant. Thank you.

  3. Nakiya Lee December 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    great article! and perspective…I don’t think I would have watched the video and thought that far but that is what I appreciate! you make a GREAT POINT…

    • Nichole Alabi December 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

      its bad enough when hollywood dominates the casting choices and we dont see a broad spectrum of black women, but when black artists dont make the casting choices that showcase our diverse beauty its very sad. its even worse when black artist fall into typical black stereotypes like those show in the beginning of the video.

  4. Catherine December 2, 2010 at 12:30 am #

    “You maintain yourself well for a dark-skinned girl” ??? WOW! that is a horrible comment. I love what you wrote. You present a very good point. While music videos aren’t as blatant about their preference for light skinned girls, as least not blatant enough for most adolescents to pick up on, many rappers have been even more blatant by verbally stating in their music and in videos that they prefer lighter skinned women with pretty hair. It’s unbelievable how many blacks continue to suffer from the slave mentality.

  5. Jessica Bailey December 2, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    So much truth in this post. Do you think there is something we as mothers and sisters can do to prevent our men from growing up with an image that places black women ahead of one another based on color?

  6. matt sesoo December 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    the solution to this ridiculous mindset is two-fold in my opinion. Parents should make it a point to educate their children on real standards of beauty. The first problem is placing too much importance on subjective concepts like beauty when determining self-worth. Thats just backwards to begin with.
    The second solution lies with the media. Sad and trite but true: modern reality is what the media decides it is. We can demand more diverse portrayals of “beauty” with our purchasing dollars as consumers and/or voices in decision making positions within media.

    needless to say; i love dark skinned girls…wanna eat em lol

  7. shan December 30, 2010 at 1:31 am #

    I can’t figure out for the life of me why dark skinned women are worried about black men. From my observations, a slim dark skinned woman, esp. with natural hair gets much attention from non black men and and light/mixed black men, so why would you be concerned about black men. Many of the interracial relationships between white men and black women involve a black woman that is dark skin, so why worry about a group of men who you know don’t want you.

    • Madi January 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

      I meant to write this a while ago…but this by far is my favorite post!! this is something that young girls NEED to read. I’m grateful that i did not really have to experience the extent of this controversy when i was younger, however it has gotten out of hand now. I don’t know what we can do as mothers, for the future, but I will do what my mother did to me- tell my daughter’s she beautiful and unique in every way. 🙂

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