Blame this stream of consciousness article on the fact that I’ve been sending emails nonstop for the past 3 hours, but there’s something I’ve got to get off my chest.
Lupita is slowly bringing me back to a place of low self-esteem that I thought I’d graduated from when I got my Harvard degree.
It’s not the meteoric rise to stardom or the accolades; I’ve never wanted the kind of fame where you have to look, act, and be perfect all the time because people are always watching you. Where you have to carefully craft – or brilliantly produce – speeches like this one and this one that slay people and give them life. At the same time.
It’s not her figure; Lupita’s incredibly toned body is enviable, but I’ve gotten to a place in my fitness and health journey (which is what I was really supposed to be updating you guys on but alas…) where I am content with the body figure I’ve been blessed with — and I’ve decided I just need to continue eating right, exercising… and then have a baby and it’ll all come together perfectly aka I’ll get wider hips!
It’s not her hair; while I do regret every once in a while not big chopping sooner and rocking a fade, that’s a change I can embark on at any given time whenever I feel like it. Which may happen sooner rather than later. #you’vebeenwarned
It’s not her super cool and handsome lil bro; I’ve got one of those too (who has been begging to be featured on the site… such a typical pretty boy/last-born who would pull something like photo bomb important people’s selfies. Also if you’re 18-20, are doing something with your life, and you love God, send me an email so I can set y’all up. Not kidding. He’s tall and athletic. And has me for a sister. What else do you need in a man/child?). I’ve even got a pretty awesome older brother too (but he’s married so #noinquiriesplease)!
It’s not her rumored boo-thang Jared Leto; I’ve never been able to take a guy seriously whose hair was longer than mine. Maybe I have hair security issues. Oh well.
It’s not even her middle-class that is really upper-upper-middle class African upbringing that positioned her to access great American educational institutions and the networks that come with them; I got all of that too – though I’d say my family started off way closer to middle than upper, but my amazingly hard-working parents who #startedfromthebottom made enormous strides so that I can start from closer to the top.
Nope, none of those.
I could wear all these colors too if I had darker skin… but alas I’ll stick to my blues, blacks, and browns.
I’m jealous because Lupita has the most beautiful, rich skin tone that I DESPERATELY have been pining over the past 5 years.
It’s probably a strange thing, to hear someone say they want to be darker, but alas, I’m no ordinary girl. Going to a predominantly white high school, I thought I was dark skinned, and was completely cool with it. I don’t recall skin tone ever coming up in middle or high school; the most intriguing aspect of my blackness for my classmates was whether I could teach them the newest moves – Harlem Shake, Heel Toe, C Walk, etc.
The good old days… Thank you soccer & track for keeping me bronzed.
When I reached college, my Dark and Lovely bubble was burst with the quickness by a male
friend situation. We actually got into an argument because I referred to someone as light-skinned and he said that we were the same skin tone. The horror! How could I be light, when I was dark in high school? Other homies verified that I was not at all dark skinned, and then came the dreadful paper bag test. Failed.
Now I had a whole lot of self-esteem problems in college (like errybody else in the world), but skin tone really was often front and center of my woes. Didn’t really bother too much about weight concerns, obviously cut my hair; but I wanted, NEEDED, to be dark.
For one, dark skin was undeniably African. One of the many things that threw me off in college was the weird dynamics (more like non dynamics) between international student Africans and black Americans – I identified as both but couldn’t get either side to really see we were one and the same. If my skin was darker, the African students would’ve forgiven the American accent that gave me away as “not really African”.
Secondly, dark skin meant pimple free skin. I had pretty bad skin in college. Between the french fries, szechuan fried rice (man I miss Yenching), stress, and not washing my face twice a day, my face was a recipe for disaster. And being an impatient goon, I always picked at pimples, leaving noticeable spots that have only finally (almost) disappeared (which reminds me, gotta update you guys on my skin care regimen too!). But dark skinned people did not get pimples, and if they did, they did not leave acne scars. Their skin was smooth and silky and unfair.
Lastly, dark skin was regal and elegant. There was something so pure and unadulterated (interestingly enough, most [white] people see the fairest of skin tones as pure; for me, it’s the darkest… #perspective) and PERFECT about dark skin. I imagine the kings and queens of various ancient and forgotten African kingdoms being richly black, draped with all kinds of lush fabrics and opulent jewels. Le sigh. But I was not dark.
Things only got worse when I started dating my boyfriend in my final year of college. Homie is tall, dark, and handsomeeee. 😀 I’ve never seen the man rub lotion on his face… it’s perfect! I think he’s had all of one pimple in 2.5 years, and probably 10 in his lifetime. And, I’m convinced it’s because he’s dark-skinned! My daddy too. #skinflawless. I have a homegirl, whom I won’t name lest she thinks that I’m the biggest creeper on the face of the Earth, who is dark skinned and also pimple free since youth and sometimes I just look at her face like dang, your skin is so darn perfect.
Now my skin tone woes are not for lack of effort. I have tried. The second I became (b)old enough to go on vacations with my friends, I would just lay out on the beach while people frolicked and looked for trouble to get into. Me? I just wanted to get dark.
Using the mister as a metric, I’ve come close to the goal, but never close enough!
Luckily I’ve been surrounded with loving family and friends who tell me I look fine/great/threaten to slap me if I don’t shut up about not being dark, so I haven’t gotten to the point of trying to find some Darkenicious cream to reverse Sammy Sosa my skin. My “natural” skin darkening efforts aka excessive tanning without sunblock have created another problem: splotchy, uneven skin that I pray daily will not materialize into something other than discoloration because my ignorant self really convinced myself “Black people can’t get skin cancer”. This is how desperate I was a few years ago. Such a shame. But, I’m going to PR in two weeks and will tan responsibly. With sunscreen!
Essentially, I was more or less cool until Lupita rolled up in the scene and just reminded me of how I could never be as great as I might could be because I’m not dark. My future bridesmaid/baby’s fairy godmother is jacking up all the efforts I’d done made to get over the fact that I’m peanut butter colored and not Nutella. Though I love me some peanut butter (it should be a food group), Nutella is infinitely better. And kind of always will be.