Growing up in the 90’s has to be by far the best thing ever. The 90’s was literally the era for black women and can’t nobody tell me otherwise. We had Whitney Houston, Jada Pinkett Smith, Aaliyah, Beyonce, Lil’ Kim, Halle Berry, Garcelle Beauvais, Tatyana Ali, Tichina Arnold, Jasmine Guy, Nia Long and much more. But sadly, of all the black representation that women of color had, brown skin girls like myself had very few.And to be completely blunt none of them had hair that looked like mine.
From birth, I have always been a firecracker, a spit fire, the life of the party, just fun for no reason. My personality has always been a characteristic that I loved about myself and it was always the thing that really drew people towards me. I made friends easily because I would literally go, “Hey I like your face we are friends now.” I wasn’t exposed to a lot of things as a child and was ignorant to a lot of things and I loved it because I was allowed to be a kid for as long as possible. I played with Barbies until I was like 12/13 and I didn’t actually throw my last Barbie way until 2010 when I was moving away for college.
When I was growing up I wasn’t allowed to get a perm; my father forbade it. So I was natural all the way up until my sophomore year of highschool. Honestly, I didn’t ever feel the need to not be natural as a kid. My mother always had braids, beads, bows and every other colorful trinket you could think of in my hair. I always felt beautiful and it was never something that I thought about. Maybe it was because I went to private school where we wore uniforms all day that really no one cared if my hair was short on long. Boys were more fascinated in the fact that I had boobs in the fourth grade. They haven’t grown much since ( I’m not bitter!). My hair was never a topic of discussion and never felt the need to have long hair until I started dancing.
From the age of 5 I danced tap and when I turned 7 I made my mom enroll me in Jazz too. Every year we had a Christmas recital and a spring recital. The Christmas recital was usually the one with the black leotard something light something simple, hair in a bun and a red lip. But the spring recital, there were costumes, makeup, and hair changes – it’s not like your mom could be back stage to help. Before that recital, I wasn’t allowed to get hair extension or box braids either. I’m telling you my parents were preserving my childhood for me to be a child. But for this recital, I needed to get braids because I had two costume changes and one dance was half up half down and the other was a bun. It was interesting when I had the braids people made comments like “you look so pretty”, “ like your hair like that better”. But why? Because it was long? But because people treated me differently when I had “long hair”, I loved recital time. I loved the attention but I also still loved my beads and two puff and flat twist. I never saw my hair as ugly.
After 6th grade and a gay man bringing all types of hateration in my dancery. My parents made the executive decision that I needed to go to public school. Transitioning from a private school is already the biggest shit show. But I also had to transition while entering junior high school when kids are at their highest point of assholism achieved. It was in middle school that I realized no one really likes brown skin black girls just as they are.
Middle school was rough, my dad had this image of me in uniform from 5-11.So basically he felt that I needed to wear a uniform to a non-uniform school and look “professional” every day. I was also bullied because apparently “ I thought I was better than people because I dressed a certain way.” Little did the kids at my school know I just wanted to wear jeans and a t-shirt but in my house that just wasn’t an option. So not only did I get bullied for my wardrobe but apparently, that was the year that I became a bald head scallywag. I didn’t have a fat ass or “good hair” so being pretty wasn’t an option for this brown skin girl. That was the year that I was no longer pretty to me. I no longer wanted to be brown skin; I even spent my summer inside because of the fear of being darker. The fear of being “blacker”. I had no problem making friends, I made a ton and all of them are dope. Every day was a constant battle, a constant battle because the main people telling me how I ugly I was, were the other girls at my school.
8th-grade kind of came and went but I was allowed to get box braids by this point. I still loved my beads and gold clips but my confidence was boosted because I had long hair now. All through high school I wore braids and weave but I was still the “ugly” friend. Freshman year my lack of male interest was due to being the fat friend but sophomore year I had a super glo up. I started playing softball, I got in shape I was the smallest I had ever been since puberty. Hair on fleek daily. But it didn’t matter because when you’re brown skin you must have ass, titties, and hair on fleek daily for guys to want to flaunt you publicly. Don’t get it twisted PLENTY of athletes were in my text messages and myspace inbox tryna have sex with me but I wasn’t worthy of anything else. Amazingly enough that feeling of being good enough to fuck but not good enough to wife hasn’t left even in my adulthood.
Even in media and entertainment if Gabrielle Union did half the shit that Amber Rose did her career would be over. And for years I despised light skin women for that exact reason, all through high school I refused to be friends with light skin black women because I felt that they thought they were better than me, more valuable than me, and quite frankly I wanted to beat their ass. It wasn’t until I turned 18 that I realized that I wasn’t the ugly friend I just grew up in the wrong part of the United States. Majority of the guys that I dated in high school typically were older than me or they had family outside of California. So when I turned 18 and first went to the club with my friends the fact that black men would go out their way to talk to me confused me greatly. I had to double check because I’m not light skin, I’m not Mexican, I’m not white, are you sure you are talking to me? It may be the cultural of California with Hollywood and being perfect and all that but being a black girl I never felt “in style”.
College is when I had my GLO-up and my confidence level just went through the roof. Black men started to like me and white men love them a chocolate woman. I felt beautiful I felt wanted I stopped feeling like all I was good for was to fuck behind closed doors but not take in public. But still never got that confidence back to wear my natural hair. Then ALL OF A SUDDEN in 2016 it was cool to be natural is was wonderful to embrace your natural hair and everyone was doing it. I’ve even been hair shamed for not wanting to be natural. I have had years of hurt, years of being torn down, years of not being able to look at myself in the mirror with my natural hair and be happy. But because social media told me my hair is cool, I’m just supposed to believe it. That’s not how an insecurity works.
Ironically with black hair being accepted and living in a city where being brown is appreciated. I still feel like I always have to have it together to catch a man’s eye. Like Kodak Black said “ women as dark as me are too gutta”, as much as people gave him backlash for it subconsciously we are still treated like this. There’s still those instances when I am only good enough to fuck but not good enough to be a girlfriend or wife, my hair isn’t accepted everywhere I go, I’m over looked because I don’t have a fat ass or big titties , there’s an assumption that I have a attitude- simply because I am a brown skin black girl.
I am still on my journey to loving my hair, my body, and my skin. People act like colorism is not a thing that the light skin v dark skin debate is a myth. Well from a dark skin girl, it’s not a myth. It does damage, it causes hurt and insecurities.
“I think the bottom line of everything, even when we talk about healing this colorism issue in the world, is that it starts with healing yourself. Because really you’re the only person you can control. Work on yourself and treat yourself, talk to yourself the way you would talk to somebody who you’re trying to heal.” –India Arie