Beauty, Lookbook

Women with dark skin don’t have my light-skinned privilege

I may be exoticized often, but I'll never hear "Oh, you're pretty for a dark-skinned girl."

This is not to diminish my hyphenated identities or anyone else and their hyphenated identities. This is simply to point out the truth regarding the topic.

Yes, I can get annoyed when people may say that I don’t get ashy because I have lighter skin. I can get annoyed when someone may be referred to as “yellow waste” for not fitting the quota of what a light-skinned black woman or mixed race woman with black heritage is supposed to look like – especially in regards to hair texture. Yes, my skin is a tad darker than most of the white women I come across.

On a good day, I could pass as white by flat ironing my hair very well Click To Tweet

However, that doesn’t mean that my light-skinned privilege does not exist – or anyone’s for that matter.

I may be exoticized often, but I’ll never hear “Oh, you’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl.”

On a good day, I could pass as white by flat ironing my hair very well in order to be well received by a white person. That has rarely happened, but it doesn’t make that less true. People believe me when I mention that I’m mixed race, whereas someone of dark skin who is mixed race, Native American, or Latina is often looked at with suspicion when they claim their true heritage. It is still easier for me to find nude lipsticks and stockings that would look nice on me; although there are more nude products for dark skinned women than ever before, it’s still difficult for dark skinned women to find products that make them look and feel good.

There are two different documentaries on Netflix, one called Dark Girls and another called Light Girls.

I may be exoticized, but I've never heard that I'm too pretty for a dark-skinned girl. Click To Tweet

“Dark Girls” provides in-depth, personal stories belonging to a variety of dark skinned black women struggling with beauty and body image and how they receive harm from various people. It is powerful and necessary. In “Light Girls”, the filmmakers try to provide the same element for light skinned and mixed race black women, but it is not as heart wrenching.

In “Light Girls”, the idea of being exoticized and experiencing harassment is touched upon. However, the majority of the issues of the women highlighted stem from being teased or insulted by dark skinned black women. There is no depth further than that. And using phrases such as “it’s hard being pretty” or “because I’m pretty, I’m more likely to be assaulted” are NOT okay.

Lighter skinned women have privilege dark skinned women don't. Click To Tweet

Whether or not one could argue that if there were better participants, the film would have been better – it doesn’t matter. It still highlights the privileges lighter skinned women have that dark skinned women don’t.

It’s not a bad thing to acknowledge the difficulties and pluses of being a light skinned woman of color.

It is a bad thing not to do something constructive about it.