Dark girls?

I don’t wish to denigrate the pain of the women in the video, but I have memories of the desire to be fair skinned – but also of wanting to be tall and thin and to have all the traits of “beautiful women.”  Looking back, this was part of the period of growing up, the years when one is learning about beauty, when one is still only able to see the most glaring examples of what is considered attractive.

To clarify, I am not talking about inner beauty or intelligence or humour. As an adult looking back at the icons of my youth, from music, films or even girls at school who were popular with the boys, I see that they were no more or less beautiful than I. A few years ago some friends and I were reminiscing of our secondary school days and came to the conclusion that (in general) the darkest boys pursued the fairest girls. In fact many of the fair skinned boys ended up with darker girls.

As I have mentioned in an article about hair, our immediate surroundings are a better indicator of what we eventually feel about ourselves - hair, skin and body. If one has a mother who is constantly berating her child for having dark skin then is it society to blame or the mother? Other mothers are sources of reassurance for their daughters who feel a societal pressure to be fair, thin and have straight hair.  

Though much of the obsession with skin colour is about wanting what you cannot have, African American films and television series often depict dark skinned girls as “ghetto girls.” In a circle of friends (think Girlfriends) the dark-skinned girl is the uncouth one – the one given to snapping her fingers, speaking in a ghetto drawl and starting fights. In mainstream TV black women are rarely as obviously categorised by colour (when they are portrayed at all). It is as advantageous to black or mixed race women to look as white as possible, as it is for Indian, Hispanics and other races to be as European as they can.

If movies or television are not specifically about racial matters then they tend to negotiate their way around black women, especially regarding sexuality. I watched only the first two seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and was very interested in how only one black man was involved in the sexual shenanigans of the hospital and no black women at all – fair or dark.

To return to my experience with skin colour, the fair skinned girls did not necessarily have better outcomes regarding relationships, marriage and attributes of intelligence or diligence were a better indicator of success in their careers. 

Dark Girls” to Premier in October.
Directed by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry
Uploaded on youtube 26 May, 2 011

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