Tag Archives: Beauty

Growing up brown

19 Jul

I live in a country where white skin is beautiful and brown is ugly. Where flawless white starlets reign the boob tube, the catwalk and the billboards, while their morena counterparts are left with tidbit exposure. Where only a handful of beautiful olive-skinned ladies get the attention, while the darker skinned beauties barely see the spotlight. Where little girls, tweens, with beautiful chocolate skin are hoping to become vanilla. It saddens me that no matter how often some people try to reverse this foul tasting concept, white is king in our country.
So, I’ve decided to add my voice.

I’m morena and damn proud of it. But I still have friends who, at our age, aren’t proud of their morena complexion. They always try different whitening products, from lotions to pills to skin treatments, and I always find myself asking them to stop. I wasn’t always like this. Growing up, I too, fell victim to the taunts of society and the dictates of the media. I was just lucky enough to have a mom who, no matter how freakishly white she was, adored brown. There are three things she told me about beauty, three lessons that I would forever carry in my heart. Hopefully they’ll tug a heartstring or two.

1. Don’t believe people when they say colors don’t suit you. You have the skin color of earth, of soil. Maybe if they come up with a color that didn’t originally exist on Earth, then maybe that’s when we’ll find a color that doesn’t suit you.

She told me this after I came running to her, crying, when I was seven years old. I had playmates who were mean and told me that I look stupid in yellow. They said I was maitim (dark) so I didn’t have the right to wear such colors.

2. Beauty is not about the color of your skin. You just have to be comfortable with yourself, every feature, every flaw. Try imagining yourself whiter, do you still look pretty? Yes? See. How about darker? Yes? See. Embrace your natural complexion. Don’t you dare turn Michael Jackson on me.

She told me this when I was 8 and we were in the grocery. I was begging, pleading, got down on my knees crying, asking her to buy me a bottle of whitening lotion. Yes, I was throwing a tantrum in the grocery. Only because I found out my crush liked the fair skinned girl in our class.

3. To hell with what the world thinks. If you want to wear red lipstick, wear red lipstick. Be proud of your decisions.

I think the lesson there was ‘to hell with what the world thinks’ or ‘be proud of your decisions’. But what stuck first was ‘if you want to wear red lipstick, wear red lipstick.’ I was 14 years old, and I only ever used lip balm and lip gloss. Colorless ones at that. I borrowed her red lipstick and wore it when we went to church (to church of all places) but when we got to the parking lot, I found myself chickening out and pleading if I could just stay in the car. She hauled me into church and decided to sit in the front row.

Fast forward to a few years, and I’ve become a proud morena who is just so damn tired of the onslaught of ‘white is beautiful’. I don’t want to see my unborn children thinking like the rest of the rotten lot. I want my daughter(s) to feel beautiful inside and out, no matter what shade their skin might be. I want them to know that beauty is not dictated by your color or the colors you’re wearing, its about being comfortable in your own skin and wearing your decisions proud. I want them to be strong enough to throw a middle finger at the world when it tells them to use a whitening product.

I want to be like my mom.

Brown is gorgeous. And someone’s got to help morenas feel pretty too. If I could make even just one person feel beautiful and for a second forget the dictates of society via this blog, I’d be happy.

I know I’m beautiful. I feel beautiful.
You should too.