Colorism/Shadeism Project

Rayna: Being Dark Skin in a “Light Skin Preferred” World


Growing up I didn’t love my brown skin. My mother is a deep chocolate brown while my dad is more caramel in complexion. Although my mother is absolutely beautiful, growing up I always wanted to be the same color as my dad. So let me break down some of my experiences being dark skin in a “light skin preferred” world. Well, that’s how I saw it…


I went to a Lutheran Private School as a young girl and pre teen where I was always the “only” black girl. If there happened to be another black girl, she was usually bi-racial or light skin. I was always surrounded by kids and people who didn’t look like me, therefore I grew up wanting to fit in and not stand out. I had long thick hair and chocolate skin and I hated it. One experience I can remember is when I a classmate who was light skin told me that light skin was prettier than dark skin and that I shouldn’t wear gold jewellery because it doesn’t look right on brown skin. So, I began to wear only silver jewellery thinking and believing that what was said to me was truth. I never wanted to be in the sun for too long because I was scared to get darker than I already was. After that statement, I began to notice the difference in black skin tones. I remember in Elementary school taking a class photo and I wore a navy blue shirt and was put on the end for whatever reason. A few weeks later, we all received our class photos and they labelled all of our names and when I checked for my name it wasn’t there and someone said it’s because you were too dark and they didn’t see you. I can remember being so embarrassing. Ever since that, I always wore a white uniform shirt for my class photos. Looking back at the photos, I know it was just an overlook and no biggie, but to a 5th grader already struggling with her skin complexion was pure humiliation. I tried everything I could to come off as beautiful because even though my parents, family and friends told me I was, I didn’t always believe it.

My hair is naturally curly and for years people would assume I had a wig and or wore tracks like a brown skin girl couldn’t just happen to have curly hair. People would ask me what I was mixed with because I was dark skin with a looser curl pattern. People would always ask how did I get my hair like that? Or what kind of hair is that? Lol. It’s funny now, but back then it used to boil my blood! I would always say why can’t it just be growing out of my scalp?! If I were light skin I wouldn’t get asked these questions, and so forth. I had male friends who told me that if I didn’t have the hair that I have, I may not be considered as attractive to some men. Or the infamous “you’re pretty for a dark skin girl” line. Yea, almost every brown skin girl has heard that before. I’ve had male friends tell me why they prefer light skin over dark skin women and it used to make me feel horrible! I remember having a night out with my best friend who happens to be light skin and whenever a guy would approach us I automatically assumed it would be for her because she is light skin. Guys have even told us together that they preferred my friend because she was light skin.

First it was being the only black girl around White kids, then as a teen it was dark skin vs. light skin. Still to this day there are so many men who prefer light skin for their own personal reasons. Nothing is wrong with light skin and nothing is wrong with dark skin. We all have preferences. However, because it was such a constant issue I always felt like I was the underdog. I thought I was the only one who felt like this, until I talked to other brown skin and dark skin women who experienced the SAME ISSUES. For years I relied on my hair texture and length to prove that I was beautiful. Crazy right?! It wasn’t until I truly began to believe that not only am I beautiful on the outside but I’m beautiful on the inside. God made me in His image and because of that I am beautiful. It didn’t matter what people had to say or their preference because I finally began to love myself. I have a husband who loves my skin and I have a daughter who is chocolate and beautiful and I make sure everyday that I remind her that she is beautiful, her skin is beautiful, her hair is beautiful but most importantly her heart is beautiful. God doesn’t make any mistakes and He created us no matter the complexion, beautiful. Light skin, dark skin, brown skin, peanut butter skin, caramel skin….no matter the shade we’re beautiful! Once I didn’t seek validation from others, I began to see the beauty in me. Seeing other beautiful brown skin and dark skin women in magazines, TV and film made me even more proud to wear my skin color. It may not have been a big deal to some, but growing up it was for me. But, I thank God for growth and His love and I can say I love ME. 🙂 Thanks for listening!

Rayna image2


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