Jiggaboo vs Wannabe

~Shemeka Michelle
Recently there has been what many are calling a natural movement. More black women of all shades are accepting themselves just as they are. However, there are still numbers of people that believe white is right and define beauty by European standards.
jiggaboovswannabeHas anyone ever wondered why blacks with lighter skin are considered more beautiful? Could it be that it’s because the shade of their skin is closer to that of whites? Why is the silkier hair of blacks the hair that’s considered “good” hair? Is it because it’s closer to the hair of white people? Why do we as a people continue to define the beauty in our race by the standards of other races? Even recently as I decided to the take the natural challenge, I’ve heard my hair referred to as pubic hair, cooka bugs (whatever that is) or little roaches. This was all by people who love me. I’ve realized that even those closest to me; have a warped sense of what beauty is. I’m often told “natural looks good on you but not everybody can wear it” or “girl, you can have that natural stuff, I can’t do it. My hair is too nappy”.  I also often hear things like “she’s cute to be dark-skinned” or “he’s dark but he’s handsome”. Also, how many times have you heard a black person brag or try and separate themselves by saying “my great-grandfather is white” or “I have Indian in my family”. However, how often do we hear that from white counterparts who may not be all white? Not to say that it doesn’t happen.
I was watching a Lifeclass on Colorism on Own and there was a young lady who insisted she was ugly. Why? Because she had dark skin, wide nose and full lips. I too remember standing in the mirror crying to my mom as a little girl. I was constantly telling her that I was ugly because I was too black and my lips were too big. There was a very popular girl of mixed race in the school that the boys loved! So I definitely felt inferior. However, that was the 80’s and I hoped this type of thinking was a thing of the past but this young lady on T.V was only nineteen. Thankfully, I had a mom who taught me the saying “the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice. When the berries are light, they have no use”. Today, while most people of darker skin tone hide from the sun, I love it! At the pool, I too grab my suntan lotion, spread out and wait for that sun-kissed glow. I gloat in the fact that I have a head start unlike the other ladies beside me.
While I have confidence and love who I am, I know it may not be that easy for some. My heart goes out to those that are still ridiculed by the ignorance of others. Both I and my coworker (pictured) have natural hair. However, most of the time she’s told her natural doesn’t count because she has that “good” stuff. No one knows that she too struggles to find products to assist in detangling and styling because it’s new to her as well. Also, no one knows that it’s also a matter of willpower for her as well as she too was conditioned to think that straight (closer to white) was better. She’s also mentioned that she’s experienced people treating her differently because they automatically assume that she thinks she’s better than they are. I have to admit, that was my attitude towards blacks with lighter skin in my late teens, early twenties. However, I’ve grown to realize people are people.
When does it end? When will we stop bleaching our skin, mutilating our faces and even going bald for the sake of becoming “better”? We talk about races that tan to be darker or get lip injections to have fuller lips but aren’t we guilty of the same things? When will we stop allowing others to tell us what’s acceptable as beauty? When we will we stop claiming to love ourselves and actually do it?!?!