It is obvious that most people wish to have light skin. When I was small my friends, those innocent kids, who were dark-skinned used to wish for lighter skin on their birthdays. Many dark-skinned people face complications of different forms just because they were born dark. “Kalo Din” as a bad day, “Kalo” person as if somehow, they are less of a human due to their color tells us how we perceive the color black. It is time we redefine the color black.
In the context of Nepal, when the child is born, it is common to find visitors commenting on the color of the baby as part of the compliment--lighter the better of course. When that dark-skinned child starts school, other challenges come along the way. There is where they start getting nicknames like “Kaaley” and “Kaali”. Some may argue these nicknames are a form of love but guess what? It’s mostly not. We never consider that child’s mentality and we kind of make them believe being lighter-skinned somehow means more beautiful and superior. And it seems to apply more on girls than boys.
As time passes by that dark child and even her friends, are socialized and groomed up in such a way with a concept that being black is not beautiful. No matter at school or home or even at relatives’ house, her skin color becomes a topic of discussion time and again. Her skin color is mentioned several times intentionally or unintentionally which she doesn’t want to hear more. This also massively affects confidence and shatters their self-esteem.
There comes a time when that dark girl enters her teenage. For dark-skinned girls in our community, this phase is one of the toughest ones. The girl stands in front of the mirror wishing her skin was lighter. She compares her skin with her lighter friends and tries to build that much-needed confidence. Probably the only satisfaction she gets is when she knows she is going to be around someone even darker. She then tries multiple makeup products, starts believing whatever ideas she hears and reads to look lighter. She realizes the real life does not come with a photo editor app. Some girls are even forced to give up on their dreams just because of their skin color. She is constantly hit with a feeling of less respect and different dimension of judgment just because of her skin color.
Our mind is programmed such that we think black means less attractive or even a “jinx” at times. We don’t even bother thinking black is just another color and it could resemble something beautiful and powerful. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves the very first learning at school happened on a blackboard. We love wearing black suits to look smart and bold. In the Maasai tribes of Kenya and Tanzania, the color black is associated with rain clouds, becoming a symbol of life and prosperity. But here we are guided by certain philosophies where black symbolizes negativities like the "blacklist", "black market", "black flag", "black magic" et cetera. We know black is just a color, however, we have set our mindset to think to be fair is beautiful and being dark isn’t. We have heard stories of dark-skinned bleaching their skin, putting tons of make-up only to be accepted in the group.
Every color has its importance and meaning. For example, red symbolizes love. We do not know who defined the symbols of all these colors but just because someone had a specific idea at some point in history does not mean we cannot evolve for better. We could reduce so much hate and social problems if we could treat every color equally. If we redefine black as “bold and beautiful” probably the next generation with dark skin would be proud of their instinct and fulfill their potential with high self-esteem. Who knows, there might come a time in the future where makeup products will be widely sold to make skin darker instead?
Everyone deserves the crown of their beauty and uniqueness. You are beautiful regardless of your skin color. There will also be toxic people in society, so people with dark skin should remember that they are not here to improve everyone- that’s not practical anyway. We hardly hear about anyone with dark skin winning international beauty pageants. Some dark-skinned do win the pageants but they are few and far between. But 2019 was different as black women won both the Miss World and Miss Universe titles with Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica crowned Miss World and Zozibini Tunzi Miss Universe.
Tunzi grew up in a society where dark-skinned wasn’t deemed beautiful but knew she could be a role model. After winning the Miss Universe competition, she now wants to see black children do not feel inferior because of their skin color. It is time we all accepted what we have and what we are provided by mother nature. Beauty is just not having lighter skin, it comes in different flavors and shades. There may come a day when the future generation may accept black as the color of boldness, comfort, strength, beauty, and protection if we start changing our mindset today. Beauty lies in the eyes of beholders. We need to renovate our perceptions of beauty leaving behind all the stereotypical thoughts regarding color black.
Today there are many famous and successful doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, leaders, singers, players, movie stars in the world who are successful despite being black. Neither all are black, nor all are white. No matter what their skin colors are, they have made their journeys possible due to their inner potential, hard work and dedication. When we are confident and be bold enough to stand out in the crowd, we can change the perception. So, it’s time to shine not to hide your inner potential and the shade of your skin color.