Andre Thomas

How I Finally Learned To Embrace My Beautiful, Dark Brown Skin

I had to realize that my skin was never changing and that it was mine forever. I had to accept that it was something to be proud of.

Black women come in all shades, and with that array of differences comes the apparent divide of colorism. A strong divide has grown between black women, and colorism is to blame.

Andre Thomas

Last Christmas Eve, I was able to see the way how black women are portrayed affected little black girls. I decided to buy my little cousins dolls. They weren’t the ideal Barbie with blue eyes, skinny, and blonde hair. They were African-American dolls with natural hair.

When my little cousin opened the gift, her excited grin instantly turned to a scowl. She handed the doll back to me and said she wanted a different doll, a lighter doll. My heart broke because her skin is a beautiful chestnut brown, yet she was asking for a white doll. She said the doll wasn’t that pretty and my other cousin agreed, calling it "ugly." They were calling dolls that looked like them ugly and I ached for them. Society has made little girls feel like they were "less than" and that they weren’t enough. They didn’t see the intellect they had, or the way their smiles could light up a room. The only things little black girls seem to see are what we are not, instead of everything we are.

Andre Thomas

Although this situation hurt me to the core, I didn’t blame them because I’ve struggled myself with accepting my caramel brown skin. Growing up, I would stay inside during the summer so I wouldn’t become too dark, because my skin was already "pushing it." When that didn’t work and I actually got a tan, I would make sure I told people that I was “lighter in the winter,” as if being light was the right way to be. Maybe I could bleach my skin? Use lighter makeup? Use a lot of sunscreen? I thought I needed to do something so I wouldn’t get too dark. I had to realize that my skin was never changing and that it was mine forever. I had to accept that it was beautiful and was something to be proud of.

There are many gorgeous light, brown, and dark-skinned women in the media whose examples encouraged me to accept my own skin. I know now that I’m beautiful. My versatile skin that gets lighter in the winter and darker in the summer is an amazing quality.

Since black women have these great qualities, we have to learn to accept them -- indeed, to flaunt them. Little black girls should learn their history and understand the black women who came before them because we come from many generations of amazing black women. A black woman has to be confident and let her natural beauty shine to combat the idea of never being good enough. This can only happen if we’re able to see more examples of beautiful, successful black women in movies, in magazines, and on the runways. Also, we should not be fetishized and disrespected by our color-stuck brothas, but that’s another story. We need to come together to embrace all colors of beauty. Learning history is step one.

Andre Thomas

I would consider myself a very conscious individual. I educated myself through literature, and have begun to form my own ideas about the past and the world around me. I finally embrace my brown skin that is golden when it is hit by the sun. The skin that sparkles when tickled by the snow is versatile and unique. The blush pinks, the bright colors, and the light eye shadows are for me. Why do I have to limit myself and wear something that someone else thinks is “cute” on a black girl? Baby, I can rock whatever and make it look bomb. I’ll be wearing that bright dress for prom -- it'll complement my radiant, glowing skin.

Black women, do you see the black woman’s versatility? We come in all shapes and shades. Be carefree, black women. Embrace your authentic traits. Take honor in the kinky hair that curls when water hits it, our plump lips that spread when we laugh, and our wide hips that allow clothing to hug every curve on our body. Love yourselves and be confident queens -- you deserve it.

Andre Thomas

Want to be an MTV Voices contributor? Send your full name, age, and pitches to hellomtvvoices@gmail.com.