There is an unhealthy obsession with complexion in certain minority groups, which unfortunately has been around for a long time. Many cultures view light and dark skin very differently. In some cultures, it is thought that the lighter your skin, the more beautiful you are, or the more successful you will be. The darker your skin, the less beautiful you are, and the less likely you are to achieve success. This is especially the case for women.
This process of thinking is so engrained in some cultures that they resort to costly, painful, and in many cases, dangerous methods to lighten their skin. This is a subject that has been touched on many times, but in all these years of talking, debating, arguing, campaigning, and raising awareness on this issue, have things actually changed?
Unfortunately, I feel the answer to this is no. Although minority backgrounds are now less likely to admit it, they still find lighter, more Western-looking men and women more attractive. I feel that men are not judged as harshly as women. In fact, in some ways, I think it's getting worse for women. Many women are pushing themselves harder to look as far away from their real ethnic background as possible. We now have such easy access to surgery and other procedures that it's an easy way out for some women. Instead of embracing their natural self, it's easier to just alter it or change it entirely.
From a young age, many girls from minority backgrounds are told that if they have light skin, they are beautiful, and if they have dark skin, they aren't. So, these girls spend their childhood developing a complexion complex, and then grow up to be women who either take the bad-arse route of embracing their looks, or go the complete opposite way and do everything in their power to change themselves and fit into the mould of what they were once told is beautiful. Light skin, light eyes, long and light hair, perhaps?
I'm not saying that all families are raising their daughters like this, and neither are all women affected by this issue, but there seriously is still a long way to go for many. There is a lot that needs to be done to educate those who think this thought process is normal or healthy in any way.
So, does our complexion really help or hinder us? Does colour define our confidence?
I personally do not think that your complexion should define who you are. Your complexion is just that: your complexion. It should be nothing more and nothing less. It's not who you are on the inside, and it does not hinder what you can achieve in any way. It does not give us super powers in any way or make us stronger or smarter. I know women of all shades with abilities of all kinds. I know women of all shades who are married, unmarried, divorced, separated, single, career women, housewives, entrepreneurs, athletes, and so much more. In their cases, their complexion has not been an issue, and they haven't even given it a second thought. However, there are many women that I have met who feel like their appearance may have either helped or hindered them.
Deep down in the universe of the small-minded people club, there is an issue, and there always will be. A woman is told that she is too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too stupid, not stupid enough (yes, it’s true!) and too dark, but they will never be told that they are too light, and we must ask ourselves, why?
This debate goes far beyond just an issue of complexion and opens so many doors to other body-conscious matters we face as women... but that's a debate for another day.