Inclusion is not limited to outward activism and the feminist movement
The first time I found out that I was “dark” was when I started using make up. As the only black girl in my class, I was already felt excluded and uncomfortable in school.
My friends used to hold up paper bags to my face. If I was darker than the brown paper bag, I would hold up a notebook and show that I was the color of the cardboard back.
As soon as my parents said that it was ok, I rushed to the Walgreens, basically the teenage Sephora, to buy foundation. Maybeline was my first foundation. I remember feeling like a queen when I put it on and went to class. I no longer cared that I was the only black girl in my class, I was on top of the world.
When I got home, my mom looked at me and said something like, “Why are you trying to look light skin. Its not working.” I was so upset. What she was telling me was that I needed a different shade. Lighter was not better, it wasn’t me.
I returned to Walgreens and looked for my shade. My shade was one of the darkest. At the time, I was only frustrated with being considered dark. But, as I matured and out grew my colorism, I became frustrated with the make up industry.
How many shades of white can they create, but there are only five shades of brown!
Last week, I was sitting down with my roommate, Goamar. We searched through at least 6 “affordable”, less than $40, make up brands to see if there was a match both for her skin tone and her skin type. My plight was negligible compared to her own. Where would Goamar find a bronzer or a contour? It doesn’t exist.
My story of self-discovery was triggered by my experience with clothing-sizes, hair products, and make up. These things although seemingly trivial when dealing with social conflict, discrimination, and inequality can be just as detrimental to an individual.
Plus-size models are representing brands. Natural hair is now “acceptable” in the military, on the runways, and on newscasts. But light-skinned women are disproportionally represented in the media. I don’t know if make up brands are confused my this misrepresentation or they don’t care.
But as women, we are told to stand up for other women. Standing up for other women does not only include LGBTQ+ rights, equal pay, etc… Our fair skinned counterparts need to speak out against the inadequate shade range instead of the plight being with the women and girls that it effects.
It is time for all women to be able to feel beautiful especially our darker sisters who are often forgotten.
I recommend the film Dark Girls. It looks into the social consequences of exclusion.