In many cultures around the world, the concept of beauty is very much focused on the melanin in our skin. No doubt that lighter skin is something that is celebrated hugely.
I’m going to rewind back to when I was a child. Up until now I was never comfortable with my skin, my body; I was always scrutinised for being dark. I’m also someone who is quick to catch a tan, thats just how my skin is. But whilst growing up I would be told not to go out in the sun too much because I would get darker, not to wear certain colours because it’ll make me look darker. Obviously being a child I kind of did what i was told. But it made me turn in on myself, disliking my complexion, making me think that I should be light skinned to be beautiful. To be normal.
I specifically remember being photographed on holiday in a room during the evening, I was the darkest of everyone and my face wasn’t that clear as with everyone else; I ridiculed myself for being so dark that you couldn’t see my face. I mean how wrong is that?! That I automatically created a safety action by making a joke of myself to feel accepted. Thinking about it makes my stomach turn, makes me feel for the mindset I had as the girl I was growing up to be. I was vulnerable, insecure, innocent.
Being told that I should scrub the “maal” (“dirt” in Punjabi) off my face daily by the older generation to make me lighter seemed like a huge chore, it made me feel so so conscious of who I was. I always used to question myself, why? But always did it. There was even a time when I used a skin lightening cream that was given to me from India, a pearlescent white cream with a rosey floral scent. When it finished I panicked for a little while because I wouldn’t be able to get another. It’s only now, in my 20’s that I’m fully embracing who I am; my skin, a beautiful glowy caramel colour.
It was the mindset of the older generation that affected me and you would think as time changes, these attributes wouldn’t matter in any culture, but they still do.
Analysing old Punjabi paintings of women, why is it that they are always light skinned? Those ideals of being fairer, purer in a sense is something everyone wanted. Even now without some consumers even realising, we’re living in a world that makes you hate yourself. A modern example of this is through Snapchat filters and contouring through makeup. What scares me is that it has become so accessible that even girls as young as sixteen are becoming affected through the use of westernised snapchat filters which include features that lighten skin tones and give blues eyes. Furthermore, why is it that whilst darker skin faces degradation, people of lighter skin are praised for being tanned? A feature also used in a Snapchat filter. A hypocritical paradox.
No doubt that my experiences caused me to have low self esteem for a long time, no confidence in my being, constantly comparing myself to others and wondering why me. No wonder plastic surgery exists, bleaching exists, hate crimes, racism exists. The fact that other girls/ women and even men put each other down for their beauty is beyond me. We live in a cruel world where sexuality and youthfulness are praised by both sexes more than anything. Where being yourself, embracing your natural self is still scrutinised the same as with people who wear makeup on a daily.
Embrace yourself people. Love yourself. Know that your skin, whatever colour it may be is absolutely beautiful. It’s the makeup you’ve been naturally blessed with. And even though some of us may be darker than some, that we wear makeup, and get tanned from the sun, don’t forget to love yourself both ways and that you are loved both ways. You don’t always have to contour to fit.
Women we are all Paradise girls.
Embrace and Flourish, We’re all Beautiful.
Paradise Girl x