Just Because You’re Light-Skinned Doesn’t Mean You’re Pretty: My Scars from Colorism

By Latasha McGill

I saw the title of this article as a Facebook status months ago. Naturally I was intrigued and wanted to read the comments. I tried not to post a comment, but I couldn’t help myself. The person who posted the status is a lady I grew up with; a beautiful, melanin- infused, dark-skinned sister. (I emphasized her skin tone to prove a point). If you’ve never met me or seen any of my photos, my skin tone is on the lighter shade of melanin. (Again, the emphasis on skin tone is to prove a point and to help readers understand the content of the article.) My comment on the post was (paraphrasing because it was months ago) “That’s true, and vice versa.” Some people may consider my comment petty or inappropriate. However, I was a little shocked by the post and to be totally transparent, I was also a little perturbed.

The post brought up some childhood wounds and modern day pettiness that I’ve experienced being a light-skinned, black woman. As a child, I was constantly picked upon, being called a “white girl” or accused of thinking I was “too much” and other negative connotations associated with being a lighter-skinned, black girl. As I became an adult, the microaggressions and passive aggressiveness from dark-skinned women became worse. I’ve always had to defend myself against the insecurities of others because of my skin tone. I’ve never associated physical beauty with complexion. I’ve heard many people say before regarding the beauty of dark-skinned women, “she’s pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” I understand how demeaning this comment is. Why does someone’s beauty have to be associated with complexion? Oprah Winfrey aired two separate specials regarding dark-skinned, black women and lighter-skinned, black women. I watched both shows. I saw the pain and anguish in the faces of the dark-skinned women as they recounted their stories of mistreatment, abuse, bullying and oppression just because their skin tone is darker. And most of their experiences were from Black people which is totally shameful and unacceptable; especially because we as a race have endured much worse from Caucasians and it is reprehensible for our own people to mistreat Black women in such a way that does not edify and reverence us for the queens we are. As I was watching the special on the lighter-skinned black women, I cried the entire time because I identified with those ladies. Amber Rose, who is a lighter-skinned black woman (famous for being famous) was one of the women sharing her experiences of growing up light-skinned. They too, have had similar experiences of mistreatment by other black people because of their complexion.

So, what am I saying? Why am I talking about this if people are still hurting and trying to heal and accept the skin they’re in? My last sentence is my point. Some of us do not care about skin color one way or another. And some people are still dealing with hidden shamefulness, insecurities, feelings of inadequacy, rejection, abandonment and pain because of past or present day experiences with their complexion. It’s not a dark-skinned or light-skinned issue; it’s a people issue. We should not attack one another or passive aggressively remind others that they’re not “all that” just because of their skin tone. That kind of behavior does not promote healing for anyone. It perpetuates negativity and division. As you’ve heard me say before, black women have enough to deal with. We don’t need “us” telling us we’re not pretty because we’re light-skinned or we are pretty to be dark-skinned. We’ve all heard the saying “black don’t crack.” It’s true! If you’re not convinced, Google some photos of Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Lena Horne and Phylicia Rashad. All of them are different shades of melanin and all of them are gorgeous, black women. Furthermore, it’s not our skin complexion that makes us pretty or not pretty it’s the complexion of our heart that determines our real beauty.

#WholePersonHealthy


Latasha “Tasha Mac” McGill is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Tasha Mac is a grammar geek who is obsessed with coffee, high heels, lipstick, 90s R&B and Comic book movies. She is also a vegetarian whose idea of “turning up” is being in bed by 9pm, working out, watching HGTV and reading a book.

Connect with her on Facebook @ Latasha McGill, on Instagram @ TashaMac523, on Twitter @ LadyT523 

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3 thoughts on “Just Because You’re Light-Skinned Doesn’t Mean You’re Pretty: My Scars from Colorism

  1. Great Read and I try to explain this to my girls all the time !!! Thank’s for a great read!

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  2. Tiffany Williams May 14, 2019 — 12:42 PM

    These are similar sentiments I wrote in a poem a few years ago. As a light skinned sister, I too have been a victim of emotional and verbal violence at the hands of another black woman. As much as we’d like to think to the contrary, color does matter. It is by the system of slavery and now racism that the trauma lives in us all. Yet, I would like to believe there is room for all of us to bare our soul and heal collectively. This means light skinned black women must have room in the conversation as black women with trauma and not the enemy. This all too often is the case. Yes, dark skinned black women have suffered. So have light skinned women. Like you said, it is a people problem. Until she deals with her pain, she will inflict pain on others. Her self, her children, her lover, and the world around her. This is where “we” are sisters. We have a shared story of trauma; therefore making it her personal responsibility to deal with her mess THEN share her story of healing with us.

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  3. Great post! I’ve experienced this myself growing up. My own father treated me as less than because of my darker skin. You’re absolutely right that skin tone and beauty are not synonymous but we all need to uplift one another. We’re all beautiful. Acts 10:34,35 reminds us that “God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. Do you think we’ll ever see a time when we’ll see people the way God does? For our own humanity I pray this is the case.

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