Melanin and Confidence

Extra Melanin, Extra Confidence

BabyMwati-MwatiMwilaAuthorDear Friends,

Ever since I can remember or since I was born, I have had dark skin. (Melanin is responsible for determining skin color)

Though I didn’t know how special and unique this smooth silky dark skin was until my late twenties. I always had this preconceived notion that lighter skin is better. It took me a long time to identify that “dark and lovely”, like they say on the relaxer commercial, was just as beautiful.

My lack of self acceptance…

It goes back to age seven when I first started dealing with my mental illness and issues of self acceptance, self awareness and self confidence. First of all, all my peers in my class did not look like me. They were either white, or of light brown complexion, very few, if any, had my skin color. The funny thing is I was happy for those other dark skinned girls who rocked the runway of life and were confident in their skin, I just wasn’t happy about my color. I wanted to look like Janet Jackson and Envogue.

To make things worse, being teased about how dark I was living in Australia didn’t make it easier. To add salt to the wound,  having depression at seven years old was tough enough, but I was also dealing with my insecurities.

As I grew up and moved to the US, I thought things would get easier, maybe I would be teased less, because I thought at least here, there was broad spectrum of skin color. But I still got made fun of by boys at my high school.

Then I watched this experiment on the Tyra Banks show about how little girls view skin color. A group of girls aged approximately 6-11, from different ethnic backgrounds, were given dolls to play with…there were two types of skin color light and dark brown. They were asked which doll was the prettiest and they all pointed to the light doll. Then they were asked which doll had prettiest hair and again they pointed to the light doll. This experiment showed how at such a young age we have been taught to be socially conditioned to think that what is most depicted in the media is the standard and is seen as “pretty” is supposed to be considered beautiful and more socially accepted.

Beginning to accept who I am…

HappyMwati-MwatiMwilaAuthorWhen I grew older, living in the US, I found myself a little more accepting of my skin color. But I still wanted light skin so I tried bleaching my skin, anything to look like Hale Barry. Something finally clicked, especially when I heard Tyra Banks talk about how dark skin is “in” on the runways and how unique this shade of color was in the modeling industry. Now don’t get me wrong I’m no fashion size model, and I’m only 5’5’’, but when I started to see models like Alek Wek and actors such as Lupita Ngongo I began to wonder…what if all those comments about how lovely my skin color was were true.

Then I began to experiment with makeup. At first I just put on basic makeup, but my cousin put blush on my high cheekbones for my 30th birthday and I was hooked. For the first time, I saw myself as beautiful. As I looked back on pictures from Facebook, year books, and scrapbooks, I saw me. My identity, pure and gorgeous was revealed.

I wrote a poem called “Dark Skinned Girl” in my book “The Sweet Surrender of Love and Nature.” I dedicated it to all the dark skinned girls struggling with their insecurities like me. And you know, I came to know my happiest truth…to know that I am still human honey, or as Maya Angelou says I was still a “woman phenomenally” and no one was gonna take that away from me. My skin was just an artistic accent of my womanhood, a decorative décor that reflected the blush I wore.

I love that you inspire me to be inspired…

So remember my dark skinned princesses and Queens, next time you are feeling down, just remember your skin color is unique and will never go out of fashion. So look in the mirror and rock the runway! Put on a show for your friends and family, it will make you feel better. Your show can be in your home or in your room, just remember that extra rich melanin is what will never fade with time. It’s smooth and velvety, silky yet different.

Click here to learn more about my book, “The Sweet Surrender of Love and Nature” and purchase a copy.

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