My experience with Colourism and ‘preference’ (part 3)

7 min readMay 14, 2021

It gets personal…

The complexion of dark skin people is so triggering to people because so many people have said such out of pocket things about every little part of a dark skin black woman’s body. This has caused many of us to grow up with so many insecurities that people of lighter complexions do not even think about. For example, when you are a black girl or someone who has a lot of eumelanin in general, most of the time, your body is not always going to be one shade of brown.

I am like 500 different shades of brown, plus my tiny albino patches, so I have always grown up thinking my skin looks a mess. This is because every black person that I saw on TV did not look like me. They were either light skin or if they were dark skin, they were all one shade (they looked perfect to me) and I just grew up thinking that I was a freak, my skin colour wasn’t normal. That was until I got older in secondary school and I was talking to some of my black friends and they said that their bodies are not all the same colour as well. But because I never saw anyone with hyperpigmentation on TV or anything, I thought I was not normal.

To break it down, my grandmother was albino, so her children had traits of it on their skin too, even though they had a black dad. She passed on the gene for albinism to her children, although they did not fully show the phenotype of albinism because of incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity. That also passed onto their children, so me essentially. Some of the children and grandchildren physically show traits of albinism.

After knowing this, I felt more comfortable with how my skin looked in that sense. I never had that much of an issue with my overall shade of brown skin. With me personally. I got teased and things were said to me about my dark skin, but I had smaller issues in that case. It was more my hyperpigmentation and had to unlearn that I do not look ugly or I don’t look dirty and I am beautiful despite it. It was very hard for me in my immediate family to learn to love myself early because you hear micro-aggressions all the time. Back to what I was saying. Hyperpigmentation became a lot more normalised, especially recently because everyone has become mini skincare gurus, and everyone is sharing experiences and tips and normalising every type of skin.

But before this, when it came to dark skin girls’ bodies, social media (when it became a bigger thing) was brutal. I got Twitter when I was in year 6/7, so I was 11 years old. I probably should not have gotten it because I was exposed to a lot of negativity concerning dark skin girls at a very young age. To be fair I was most using my two twitter accounts to keep up to date with the people I stanned back in the day like bands and actors. Twitter was my first from of social media and from 2012–2015, if you were a dark skin girl, it was brutal. When I would read the horrible things, I felt deep sadness, but I do not remember crying. I was just reading everything and taking it all in and believing it and feeling awful. The smallest of things a young girl would not be thinking about became my biggest insecurities. Insults and harmful jokes came from mostly black boys and men on twitter, lighter skinned black women and a few were dark skin black women too.

The tweets on the less harmful side of the spectrum were to do with appearance. Obviously, I was already insecure about my hyperpigmentation. On my face I have quite a lot of it, specifically around my mouth, although it was way worse back then. And I remember seeing so many retweets of someone targeting people with discoloration specifically around their mouth and I hated myself from that day onwards because it was too specific towards me.

Another bad one was black men comparing dark skin black women’s private area to charcoal and roaches. So I grew up with so much anxiety toward ever getting to the stage of being intimate with someone out of fear that they would see my thighs and my private area, as they were a lot more darkened than the rest of my body. I had not even started talking to boys yet, but it was my biggest insecurity. Many tweets were often describing how lighter skinned black girls, white girls, light skin Latina girls and Asian girls and even animals, would always be better than a dark skin girl.

Too many memes to even remember with that one. There was also a terrible stigma with black girls and colourful things. We were forbidden to wear colourful lipstick, hair, clothes etc., because it apparently looked mad and “ghetto” on us which is a lie. I am lowkey still a bit insecure about colour because it was so forced upon us. I have not had colourful hair ever because of that mess. I remember A$AP Rocky saying dark skin girls should not wear lipstick, that was mad. There were comparisons to poop, charcoal, tar, petrol etc. There are many more examples on how dark-skinned black girls were heavily bashed based on appearance but that would take all day. And this is just on appearance.

Dark skin black girls were literally made subhuman in everyone’s eyes. Bottom of the barrel for everyone, just hated so much for no reason. And I say all this because the comments and “jokes” did not stop at appearance. People were making rape jokes, slave jokes and murder jokes about dark skin girls and no one else, just us. The fact that someone would wish such terrible things on someone, just because you hate how their skin looks? It was truly beyond me. And I was just taking all of this in and internalising it. Never did I project it because most of my friends were not on social media like that, no need to bring down their self esteems too. However, when Instagram became a thing and everyone got social media, that is where it went more downhill.

In 2013–14, for some reason everyone had a deep obsession with mixed raced black people ONLY IF THEY WERE LIGHT SKIN. To this day, some people do not know that biracial people come with different skin tones and hair textures. They think that every half black child will come out looking like Zendaya with green or blue eyes. We move.

The fetishization of mixed raced people became a massive thing as well as light skin black people, white girls with a bawdy and “foreign” looking girls too. This was heavily pushed by media and music a ridiculous amount and I still stand by that to this day. Media was the biggest enemy of progress because when I tell you that there was no representation of people darker than Beyoncé in those years??? A popular app that everyone had then was “Vine” and on this app the way people were openly fetishizing was truly disgusting.

No one can argue with me when I say that 2013–14 was just anti-black as hell and mixed light skin people were force fed to the public. Everyone already loved Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna but their statuses went so much higher in that period. Zendaya was literally glorified, I love her by the way, but everyone knows why she became such an It girl, and it was perfect timing no less. The music industry released Tinashe on the streets, who we stan of course. Then afterwards other records labels released other girl groups or solo artists who looked like her too. You remember Natalie La Rose?? Where did she go? She came and left because after the hype about light skins left, she fell off. Labels used this era to really push certain artists out there that just did not have the range. Never Tinashe though that’s my girl, but her copycats.

No offence to her or other people who were placed in the same boat but, they really rode on pretty privilege alone (in their Cassie bag). I only know of two songs from her that charted so it’s very tight. Anyways, it was very unfortunate that the general look for a mixed black person was light skin, 3a type curls and bright eyes because some nonblack people started purposely getting into interracial relationships with black people to build a designer baby of their choice. We all should know basic biology and know that is not how genetics works. After 2014, there was a very brief time to get woke, understanding of the origins of desirability politics and when black people started openly loving themselves. That got put in a spliff (the idea died out) and then the old mixed-race black person fetish turned into anyone who even looks the slightest bit of racially ambiguous and then the black fishing began.

I saw a quote on Twitter that showed that colorism transcends in society today and is not just about preferences or desirability politics, it is way deeper than that. On Twitter, @BlackSapphic said: “I knew *dark* skin women received longer prison sentences, but I didn’t know it was longer & I didn’t know light skins serve 11% shorter sentences. I also knew we had high chance of arrest but didn’t know it was 30% higher.” I am not sure if this is exclusively in the US, but I can imagine that it is in many places. I would not be surprised. In response to this tweet, a lot of people said colorism needs to be taken more seriously. Colorism does not go both ways at all and should not be thought about when talking about dating.