- I am not lightening because I feel light skin is superior, and dark skin is inferior.
- I am not lightening because I feel it will give me a better chance at success (career-wise).
- I am not lightening because I think it will get me a man (I don't even want a man) or a woman.
- I am not lightening because I am color struck, or have bought into the "white is right" Caucasian standard of beauty.
- I do not believe that lightening automatically means I do not love myself, my race, or my culture.
- I do not believe that changing my skin color changes who I am as a person on the inside
Well, I for one used to think that lightening your skin instead of getting to evenness was a reflection of self hatred. I never thought about "white privilege" also extending into the issues of skin lightening. I never before had to or thought to think "well, why can't I?" Why can a white (or lighter) person tan to their hearts content, get contacts, dye their hair, straighten or curl it and not be questioned racially? Psychologically?
I am much more aware that some people only see skin tone, where as I have always seen facial structure, and a great admiration for even tones of any shade. When I look at someone, I also wonder if I have considered them beautiful because of their skin. I wanted to know if I was color struck. Am I lightening because I'm trying to be white? As it were, the answers are "no," but it was a journey to end up right where I started.
If we're getting technical here, the Harvard test says I have a preference for darker skin (part of the 6% who do). Personally, I think the test is ineffective for various reasons (two of which being whether someone is dominant with the right or left, and also how they start the associations). But I digress. I think dark skin is beautiful, but I'm not sure whether or not I have a preference for it. I think dark mocha will turn my head much faster than pale ivory- mostly because it's striking and uncommon where I am, but that isn't the whole truth. It's a half truth, and everyone should remember that such things aren't a reflection of everything.
FTR, my only skin preference is for good, clean and even toned skin. You can be black as the night sky or whiter than porcelain and it'll be good as long as your skin is flawless, dahling. (But I'll take flaws of course!) ^.~
One thing I did realize when researching this is that people, in my case within the black community, think they own me. They really do.
They tell me to hold my head up high, that I am a beautiful black woman. And I am- I know I am. They criticize if I let my hair grow out naturally or shave it; they look on with quiet approval if it is straightened, but also preach about conforming to Caucasian standards and needing to get back to my roots. They tell me that if I bleach my skin then I am full of self hate for myself and my race. They tell me if my skin is uneven, then I am less beautiful and I may lighten it, but only to achieve evenness. That is what I mean when I talk about ownership. Who does that? Who really, genuinely sits behind a monitor and tells someone what they may and may not do with their own body based not on facts but on media hype and social stigma? Only people who on some level believe they have the right, on some level, to dictate my life- your life.
They tell me that I am color struck and need therapy. They tell me I can't wear contacts or dye my hair a certain color on top of it because that would mean I am a traitor to my race. They think they own me because they believe their way is the only way. They think they own me because they don't believe I can truly love myself and my heritage and have a difference in opinion.
Well, why do I have to be full of self hate? I myself know how I truly feel, and I dedicated an exceptional amount of time evaluating my reasoning before even touching a product. Why do I have to have white envy? Light envy? Why can't I just want to see how things go? A simple curiosity. Just because it's unconventional does not mean it is rooted in the negative. When done right, it is more beneficial and much safer in the long run than tanning; whether natural or through HQ.
Point is, this journey has taught me not only to know where I come from, but where I'm going. Do most people even know that the original popularization of the hair straightening hot comb was not to emulate Caucasian beauty standards, but instead it was to accompany petroleum as part of a scalp treatment for a condition that plagued black women in the 1900s? I sure as hell didn't, and I doubt a large portion of those who are both sides of the hair debate do either. I've learned to question and find my own answers. I learned that I can't please everyone, and people will think that they want to about me and what I do, but that's true in all walks of life. I just found my own source of validation and with that comes the responsibility of constantly challenging established view points- my own included.