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I Rock!! My battle with colorism and wanting to be White

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Through no wrong doing of my mother, for many years I wanted to be a white girl.  I wanted to rock the Farrah Fawcett feathered hair style and have cute little freckles on my nose that I wanted straight and keen, not wide like what I had.

My mother always said “I ain’t got no ugly children,” but that didn’t stop me from feeling so and not being happy with the skin I was in.

I had black dolls that looked like me, but I couldn’t see that.  No those pony tails didn’t really grow out of my head.

Me-at-ChristmasI can remember putting clothes pins on my little three inch plaits and shaking them like it was hair.  The image in the mirror and the one in my head of what I wanted to look like were totally different.

 

I could blame the images on television, but that was not where it started. 

As a kid I often looked at my cousins who were the same age, but who looked totally opposite of what I looked like.  One cousin in particular was the quintessential light skinned girl with long hair, light bright porcelain skin and Jordache jeans.  Her grandparents, mostly her grandmother, my aunt, gave my cousin the best of everything.  In some ways I idolized her.  I wanted what she had; the clothes, and the “she is so pretty” comments.  During Christmas my cousin got name brand items, I got clothes from Goodwill delivered as a gift in a big black trash bag. 

In my aunt’s eyes my cousin could do no wrong and everything I did was wrong.  I was treated like the black sheep of the family literally by this aunt.  Colorism was strong in some areas of my family; I felt the brunt of it and struggled with an identity problem throughout high school and into adulthood.

There was no image that looked like me in American media. 

Along with what I experienced in my family, what I saw on television further influenced my perception of what beauty was and what was accepted in society in so many ways.  Every TV sitcom from Mary Tyler Moore to Happy Days to Brady Bunch showed fascinating images of who I wanted to be. 

Thelma-GoodTimesSure there was Thelma from Good Times, and later in my childhood I began to see reruns of “Julia,” but it just wasn’t enough.  I saw more people who looked like Marsha Brady than Thelma Evans. 

 

MARSHA, MARSHA, MARSHA!! 

 

 

Tianadress

 

 

Until recently there was no fairytale princess that looked like me.

I spent many years in my childhood and young adult life feeling subconsciously like the children in this video.

 

 

 

 

Although I went to an all-black high school, I wasn’t popular or in the clique so I developed a place of my own to belong, a little sorority.  The group had a bake sale to raise money for t-shirts. 

When we picked nicknames to put on the back of our shirts, I chose “Casey.” 

Why?  It was “whitest” girl name I could think of.  The last thing I wanted to be was dark skinned with short, kinky (read: nappy) hair. I wanted to be light skinned or white, and skinny.  I idolized Joanie from Happy Days and yes I was in love with Chachi (my first celebrity crush).

JoanieandChachi

They were the epitome of what I thought it meant to be “everything,” what it meant to not be black.  Later I would fall in love with Michael Jackson and idolize Janet, but that is another story for another time.

 

As much as my mom esteemed me, I didn’t see my own beauty nor appreciate the melanin in my skin until I was in my mid 30s. 

 

Sure there was Essence, Jet and Ebony, but the damage had been done.  I had to do a major overhaul on my psyche and how I saw myself.

I needed Black Girls Rock back then. 

I am so happy that Beverly Bond has created this platform so little Black girls can see that we have a place in society; that we do matter and that we have and can do PHENOMENAL things. To you the reader, I implore you to esteem your daughters.  No matter the ethnicity, let her know she is beautiful. 

Not beautiful for a Black, White, Hispanic, or Asian girl but beautiful….PERIOD.

For those that don’t get it and want to insist that this is some form of racism, please read Olivia Cole’s awesome article in the Huffington Post. 

“Many black girls go their entire lives thinking they are ugly, thinking they need to be lighter, straighter, whiter in order to have value.”  

I understood this line in Miss. Cole’s article oh too well and I’m so glad that I don’t think or feel like this anymore.

If you missed the Black Girls Rock Award Show, it airs again on BET, this Saturday, November 9th @ 7 pm and Monday, Nov. 11th @ 8 pm.  Watch it with a young lady in your life and tell her she ROCKS!!

 

 

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