Light Skin, Dark Skin- Colorism in the Black Community

woman standing near window
Photo by Martin Kirigua on


“You’re really pretty for a dark girl”, this is something I’ve heard many times in my life. Growing up as a dark skin girl can be difficult, as a child other children often made fun of my color.  I was lucky that at home my mother always told me I was beautiful and I never felt I was less beautiful than lighter skinned girls.   Although I’ve never wanted to be another complexion, I know that many other women with dark skin often struggle with wanting to be lighter because being lighter is often praised in the Black community.

The idea that the lighter you are the better often begins when a child is an infant.  Many older Black people will try to determine how dark a child will be by looking behind the ears because that color is said to be the color the baby will grow into as she gets older.  The idea that if you’re lighter with straight hair and smaller facial features,  you’re better is also depicted in the media.  Lighter skinned Black women are usually portrayed  as being soft and feminine and darker women are often portrayed as being unattractive and masculine.  It’s an interesting fact that lighter skinned women are  often praised however  darker skinned men tend to be more desired in the Black community.

Some darker women will bleach their skin in order to be lighter, this is  of course a very dangerous practice and can cause serious damage to your body.  The idea that if you’re lighter your life will be better and happier is something we as a community need to stop believing and begin to love ourselves no matter your complexion.  Remember that your skin color does not determine your worth and you deserve love and kindness whether you’re dark, light or any shade in between.  All shades of brown and black are beautiful.

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