Colorism/Shadeism Project

Lisa: I LOVE my Dark Skin

My name is Lisa Wilson my daughters name is Kelsy Wilson and we live in Louisiana. I have attached a few photos of me and her for you to use. Once again thank you!
I think the fact that we are so many shades of brown should be celebrated not discriminated. The melanin molecule which gives us pigments of these different shades is truly unique and beautiful. It took me many years to understand this and accept my brown skin. I often struggle to remember many things from my childhood. There are certain moments that I will never forget…

I was eight years old sitting at my desk in class. My innocence left me unaware to many things and issues going on at that time. This day changed my perception of myself for many years. I remember the teacher stepped out for a moment and the class began to talk and play. I sat quietly at my desk and observed my classmates. I eventually laid my head down because I was tired. There were two black boys sitting next to me and I began to listen to their conversation. They were picking each girl in the class and saying whether they thought she was pretty or not. As they got to my name my curiosity was sparked; I was young so I had never thought about whether I was pretty to boys or not.
 “Yeah she is pretty but she’s dark,” is what one boy commented.
I was truly crushed. I didn’t understand why my skin color factored into being pretty. My mom never discussed this with me as she would always tell me how beautiful I was. She would constantly tell me stories of how she once took me as a toddler to take pictures at Sears and they asked if I could model in their catalog.
Even so, I was confused and resentful of my skin color for many years all the way up until high school. As life went on I always noticed a preference for lighter skinned girls when it came to boys.  I never really thought I was that pretty or could date a really cute guy. I developed low self esteem not totally based on my skin color but it was a factor. I became shy and guarded and when a cute guy would talk to me I would feel like I wasn’t good enough.
The end of high school and into college is where I began to actually get complimented on my skin tone. People would ask what kind of make up I wore even though I didn’t wear any, or they would ask what skin care products I used. A stranger stopped me in the store one day and simply said, “your skin is so beautiful” and walked away. I started to grow into my own and gained more confidence in myself and my skin as I matured into a young adult.
I am older now and I absolutely love my skin, in fact, I believe it is one of my best qualities. My boyfriend is a very “conscious” man; he tells me I look like the “original woman”.
photo 4
I have an eight year old daughter now and her name is Kelsy. Her skin color is lighter than mine. At birth she was very bright and I remember someone commenting at an event I was attending “whose Mexican baby is this?” I looked at them with disgust and said she was mine. As she got older her color changed however regardless of any shade she is, she is truly beautiful inside and out.
I watched the “Dark Girls” documentary a few years ago and was curious to know what my daughter thought of her skin tone as I sat reminiscing about my experience. I asked her…”Kelsy what color are you?”
She answered “Purple!” I laughed to myself but I knew this conversation wasn’t over.
My daughter became good friends with a few neighborhood kids. Three kids in particular were siblings. Their mother is a very light skinned color and so were all three of them. One day as I was talking to my child, she told me that she is light skinned. I was shocked as I had never had this discussion with her thus I pondered on where she get this information from. I asked her and she said that one of the girls had told her that and also added that my niece – who also plays with them – is dark.
At that point I began to talk to her about skin tones. I didn’t have a problem with her saying she was light, I just had always wanted to present it to her in a way that let her know black people are all different shades, but that its not a bad thing; it is a very unique and beautiful thing. Once I explained it she understood and to this day I’ve never heard her mention her skin color again. I think it’s important to teach our kids that we as a people will be many different shades but that does not define beauty.
I am 32 years old and colorism still exist. It exist in all shades from people making memes insinuating that a light skinned girl are “stuck up” to rappers verbally saying you can’t be a “dime” if you aren’t a redbone. It should stop, I wasted many years thinking I wasn’t pretty and not having confidence in myself for no reason at all. Not anymore. My name is Lisa Wilson and I love my dark skin!
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