The article/ report, ‘Complex(ion) Issues’, took me back to a past where people failed to see past the colour of my skin. As a young girl I was teased relentlessly not only by my peers, but by my relatives, and even by my own mother.
My sister used to tease me by saying that when I was born I was so black I looked like a lump of coal. One of my uncles even gave me a nickname, ‘Blacky.’ I am now nineteen-years-old and he still subjects me to this same ridicule that I experienced when I was younger.
The teasing affected me so much that I started using my mother’s skin creams such as Ponds, Palmers Skin Success and Clear Essence. This did not help me as I had extremely sensitive skin. As a result, I experienced various types of skin rashes, which have scarred me for life.
I’m sure my doctor knew what was really causing my skin problems, but I always blamed it on the heat and on my alleged allergy to meat, so he prescribed various types of medications for me, which led to me spending half of my life in the sick bay at boarding school.
The sister who teased me was born very light-skinned. She is still lighter than me, yet she still uses skin-lightening creams such as Caro Light. She claims that she doesn’t want to get darker so she needs to maintain her lightness. Another excuse is that she wants the tanned areas of her body to be the same colour as the rest of her body. I can’t remember which program we were watching, either France 24, 3 Talk with Noleen, Oprah, or Tyra, where they were talking about the adverse effects of skin-lightening creams and how much damage they can cause. My sister automatically started defending her use of these products, which shows that people really don’t want to admit their use of such products.
I found the statement, ‘…men often claim they don’t want to take the chance that their offspring will have dark skin,’ amusing, as I’ve noticed that it is usually the most dark-skinned men who are after the lighter-skinned women. My father married a light-skinned woman, but still had dark-skinned children.
It really shocked me to notice the extremes that we women go to for acceptance. I have seen women whose skin has started to look yellow from the excessive use of lightening creams and I pray that my sister becomes wiser soon.
As a dark-skinned girl, I found that I always had to work harder than my light- skinned peers, whether it was winning a teacher’s attention or a boy’s. But I have learnt to love who I am and to appreciate what I have. There is nothing wrong with being light-skinned, but I agree that our society should not expect every black woman to be light-skinned.
People are different and every one is unique. That is how our creator intended the world to be. Ignorance is still a disease in our community, one which we really need to be cured of fast.
I have to say that I really enjoy watching shows like Nokia Face of Africa, where the girls are truly natural and truly African, whether light or dark, and the competition is fair. I have learnt to love my dark skin and I now know how to make it work for me to the best of its ability. I am a fun, fearless, fabulous female and no complex(ion) issue is going to stop me from loving life any longer!