Ever since my youngest sister was born, I never thought my skin was the one thing I would hate. In my family of dark skins, my younger sister was born a lot lighter. Many family members commented on her beauty and fairness. While that never bugged me, it hurt when my skin color was brought to the table, especially during the pandemic. I was belittled over my darker skin and hyperpigmentation by my extended family members, making me hate how I looked.
I began to search for “remedies” to fix my skin, hoping it would make me feel more loved by my extended family. My failed attempts at “fixing” my skin left nothing but burns and resentment for my family. Thoughts like, “Why am I like this?” and “I wish I was lighter” crept in my head for months. Being in quarantine didn’t make it any better, especially when other family members were staying with us.
I remember one morning I was playing UNO with a family member and my sisters. Out of nowhere, my family member blurted out that my younger sister will grow up to be so beautiful while me and my other sister will remain “ugly.”
Taken aback, I couldn’t find the words to express my astonishment at how someone can openly make horrible remarks about things I can’t control. Their words embarrassed me and basically destroyed the little self-worth I had left. Thinking of their words, I stopped looking at myself completely. I stopped taking pictures, and I stopped looking at myself in the mirror.
That’s when I realized the deepness and reality of colorism, which is prejudice or discrimination against individuals with dark skin tone, typically among the same ethnic or racial group. According to Social Psychology Quarterly, darker skinned women are less likely to get married compared to lighter skinned women, are likely to have longer prison sentences, and are three times more likely to get suspended from school. Not only that, an ABC News report found lighter skinned Black and Hispanic women look “smart” to white people.
After months of being self-conscious of my skin color, I grew tired of the constant overthinking and hating the way I looked. The hatred over my skin color grew and grew to the point where it became tiring to hate my skin. I wanted to be energized by my skin color and what it means to me. My hatred for my skin lost its flair, and I was able to finally look in the mirror again. Once again, I became comfortable in my skin. I cut off communication with those family members. It made things so much easier for me in loving who I am and all aspects of myself.
Celebrate you and remain kind to others around you, including yourself. This is so important during the pandemic, where isolation has us all examining our insecurities. So do yourself a favor and be kind to you.
ThreeSixty Fall News Team students wrote op-ed stories, then turned them into digital essays, inspired by the #360YouthVoiceChallenge, which is inspired by youth.