Blacker the Berry: Embracing My Beautiful Black

black woman happy
 Originally posted at She Dream Warrior

1993 was the year I was born and 2000 was the year I wished I wasn’t. Growing up on the Westside of Atlanta the majority of my life was fun sometimes, but not the easiest thing in the world. My mother, a beautiful brown skin woman raised three of my brothers and I. It was the year 2000 at an elementary school in Atlanta, Georgia that I began to realize that I was different. I was in second grade and my best friend was a girl named Eliza. Eliza was a typical “it girl” of today’s society. She had fair skin and long curly hair. All the boys loved to flirt with her and the teachers loved her. Me, on the other hand, was darker than paper sack brown with thick, kinky hair.

The boys didn’t flirt with me as much and I was just another student to my teachers. One day I went home to my mother and asked, “why do people treat Eliza better than me because she has lighter skin?” My mother looked at me as if she knew this day was coming and said to me, “honey, you are beautiful in the skin you’re in. Nothing is wrong with being brown. You are beautiful.” I believed her, but then again I felt like she was just saying that because she was my mother and that’s what she was supposed to do. I hated being brown. I even thought about taking bleach baths so I could get lighter.

In my mind, I was a disgrace. I was ugly and would be prettier and more accepted if I were lighter. I didn’t want to live, but my smile hid all of my pain. Years later, in high school, my complex still existed. Eliza and I were still friends, but distant because I felt like she thought she was better than I was. She didn’t understand my feelings and I felt like she never would because she was light skinned. My circle of friends consisted of three other brown beauties, and now that I think about it, we all hung together because we were all uncomfortable in our own skin. Many nights we would have conversations on the phone about people of lighter skin and laugh, but deep inside we were all crying. We had all been called “darkies,” been rejected by boys that only liked light skin women, and had been denied opportunities because of our skin color.

Being uncomfortable in my skin wasn’t made easier by society either. Music videos were full of light skin beauties, music lyrics were always about women of lighter skin complexion, and even magazine ads were full of fair skinned women. I mean, maybe it was just me, but all I ever saw was light skinned women, or maybe it was just all I focused on. It wasn’t until senior year that I met Kourtney Lavigne, a light skinned cheerleader that everyone at school loved. In a way, she was a lot like Eliza. We became really close and the day she came over my house is one I would never forget. She and I were in the bathroom mirror and she said to me, “Wow, you have some really beautiful skin. Look at mine; I’m so light you see all my pimples. I love your brown skin. Can we trade?” At this point, I was astounded by her words. A light skinned girl wanted to trade my skin for hers?? Since when?

Her words were so sincere that they changed my whole outlook of myself. She had no idea that I had a deep complex that was controlling and ruining my life. From then on, I completely changed my ways. I no longer hung with my circle of “light skin haters.” They thought I was a trader, but I had really just grown up and become content with how God made me. I was just as beautiful or even more beautiful than people of lighter skin. Kourtney has no idea how she changed my life, but hopefully she’ll read this and find out. To every brown girl out there with a complex know that you are truly beautiful. Your black is beautiful.



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