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One can only wonder what many will give or do to be the “fairest” of us all. The list is not only shocking but endless. In the quest of becoming the kind of beautiful we desire, we fail to realize that beauty will always be based on individual perception and what is appealing to a vacillating society. Even one’s idea of what or who is beautiful is still solely based on one’s perception of beauty.
Beauty is relatively subjective; you see a painting on a canvass and you consider it as trash and of no meaning, yet another person sees true beauty in it and draws inspiration from it. Does this not prove that beauty is subjective? Though there’s no doubt that Marilyn Monroe was beautiful and that Beyonce is beautiful; nothing truly defines beauty! Not even what society and the media compel us to believe as beautiful. Take a journey around the world and you’ll be surprised what is considered as beautiful. In some parts of Africa tribal marks are considered beautiful, the Padaung women of Thailand wear brass rings on their neck right from childhood and this is considered beautiful. Various body mutilation and modifications from all around the world has been regarded as beauty standards and this shows that, what is considered beautiful is greatly influenced by society and is also a thing of perception. Beauty is an unlimited resource that comes in various forms, and is well distributed around the world and amongst all races. It is the society and the media that shuts out the many other forms in which beauty appears and glorifies a select few. Thus giving us a blinkered view of what beauty actually is.
In this present time, there’s an increased need to love and accept yourself for who you’re, because you can hardly check all the boxes of society and new media. A good motto to inner contentment has always been, “it’s when you accept your flaws and imperfections that you become perfect and fulfilled.” This definitely applies to most things, but to color? A big no, because your skin color is not a flaw and will always be unique to you. Take a look outside, feed your eyes with the different hues, then close your eyes and imagine the world in monochrome, devoid of the beautiful colors you had just seen. One can then realize how color gives identity and attribute beauty, and this is applicable to us as humans. Unless you fantasize living in the Simpsons’ world, it will be extremely weird if we all had the same skin tone.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and thus skin color cannot be overlooked as it is not only what we notice first, but it also tells us a lot about the race of every individual. Colorism which is entirely different from racism, yet born out of it, is prejudice or discrimination of people based on their skin color. Colorism favors light skinned people and is of the belief that light skinned people are more valued than dark skinned people and are generally treated better. Historians could argue that colorism originated from the slavery times when colored children that were products of the relationships of black women slaves and white slave masters, were given more privileges, assumed to be more intelligent, allowed to work in the house and rarely sent to the field to harvest cottons, and generally treated better. Typically colorism is an expression of how black skin tone has been demonized, symbolized for bad, and how lighter tone has been symbolized for pure and good. Take a look at other countries in Asia, and South America. Society continues to favor the light skinned individuals. Colorism which is evidently not limited to black Americans is also observed by Caucasians themselves and this dates back to the Victorian era when women of high class were particularly obsessed with very pale skin. They avoided the sun and used harmful chemicals such as arsenic and ammonia to achieve a very fair and pale skin. A modern trend in Chinese beaches is the wearing of a mask called; “Face-kini” to prevent tanning, as having a tanned skin suggests that one is a peasant farmer or laborer that works under the sun. Colorism continues to be a worldwide phenomenon as even within ethnic groups, light skin is cherished and promoted. This is also evident in the amount of lightening or bleaching skin care products flooding the skin care market.
One cannot live in a society without being influenced by it, judged by it, given standards by it and compelled by it. The society that is already favorably biased to light skin individuals, coupled with the powerful tool of the media continues to promote colorism and set it as one of the standards of beauty. It’s everywhere, we see it in the magazines as pictures are edited to be fairer, light skinned women are generally regarded as more beautiful, light skinned is promoted as an evidence of healthy and wealthy living, light skinned people are used more in various media publications and adverts, and the intimidated dark skinned people have taken to bleaching and a milder alternative called skin toning. What many forget is that the societal view is a collective reasoning of a vast majority of individuals and the media is just an outlet to voice out and establish these opinions. This shows that colorism starts with an individual and is nurtured in the home and eventually manifest to the society. So people themselves are the problem and colorism can only be corrected from within. We should all learn to see all shades of skin color as equal.
We don’t get to choose our skin color, and it’s neither a flaw nor an advantage. It’s our identity and it is what makes each and every individual unique and beautiful. From the bitumen dark skinned individuals to the white as snow light skinned people, we’re all beautiful and unique in our own way. We should stop paying attention to various standards set by the media on how things ought to be or look like. When we value ourselves we would stop giving preferential treatment to a particular set of people just because society dictates it. Colorism comes with a baggage of all things negative and bad, such as feeling of inadequacy, envy, low self esteem, prejudice, discrimination and a plethora of adverse health conditions that comes with bleaching and various skin lightening procedures. Colorism could be as bad as African Americans themselves claiming that Barack Obama couldn’t have won the presidency race of the United States of America if he was a shade darker. Colorism should be shunned in our society and we the people of the world should see ourselves as beautiful colors on God’s canvass. Together we make a master piece.
Superiority is fueled with inferiority, so individuals that are of darker tone should stop feeling inferior or intimidated by light skinned people, or when they see a successful light skinned individual or an advert promoted by a light skinned person. Just because a light skinned individual is being favored or successful doesn’t mean he or she benefits from colorism. It can as well be by merit. Having a beautiful dark skin is not an imperfection; it’s a privilege and a great cultural identity. So embrace it, be proud of it, own it and never feel intimidated to the extent that you erase your identity.
Our skin color is our cultural heritage and identity and should be greatly valued and cherished. We should never stop treasuring what we have and we all should learn to take care very good care of our skins by applying good skin care products, eating healthy and living healthy. So the question arises again. Who or what defines beauty? Is it what the society dictates or by some preset standards by the media? Certainly it’s defined by neither of the two. So who defines beauty?! You define beauty because it is based on your perception and ideology. So go be the kind of beautiful you want to be regardless of the shade of your skin tone and what society says.
Erase a color from a master piece just because you feel one or more is better and you ruin the masterpiece. Such is our world that is made beautiful by the diversities and richness in uniqueness. Our planet is a perfect example of how no shade of color is less important than the other and how they all create a magnificent sphere that is greatly distinct from other planets. All across the seven continents is a great multitude of multicultural and multicolored people that are beautiful and wonderful. Dark skinned or light skinned, we’re all very special, valuable and beautiful in our special and unique way. Together we can be a greater force because where colorism divides, humanity unites.