BY RASHIDA STROBER, The Dark Skin Activist
Newsflash! Dark skin women are beautiful! Make no mistake that many of us already knew this. However, it is an exciting time for dark skin women and girls in 2014.
The attention that is being focused on dark skin women is wonderful. It is something that I have personally advocated for years. Dark skin women have for so long been the invisible women. If you were beautiful and dark skin, it was hard to get that beauty recognized in a sea of women, who were always no matter what, were considered the standard of beauty.
One of my dark skin friends would always complain that light skin girls always got the guy even though they were not half as good looking as she was. She said her dark skin would always make the guys look at her only second to her light skin friends.
I can’t deny that what my friend said was the truth. I had grown up being ridiculed because of my darker skin tone by almost everyone I knew, except for white people. I often wondered why white people saw me as attractive while black people didn’t.
In 2006, my anger, heartbreak and disappointment at a lifetime of being viewed as black and ugly prompted me to write the play “A Dark Skinned Woman’s Revenge.” For me it was no more suffering in silence! It was the dark skin beauty revolution and it was our time; it is our story and I was hell bent on telling it.
Performing the play for the last three years has been extremely therapeutic and healing. Fast forward to 2014, the recent naming of Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o by “People Magazine” as the most beautiful person of 2014 is a sure fire win for dark skin women and a great win for the dark skin beauty revolution.
Since joining Facebook in 2009, it has been one of my favorite places to vent about my frustration with how dark skin women are viewed. As well Facebook has served as a wonderful place to find likeminded people who understood and felt the same frustrations. This is why my soul rejoiced when a Facebook friend informed me of the news of “People” honoring Ms. Lupita.
It took me back to 1999 when I was an undergraduate at St. Pete College. It was Black History Month and I had given the first place winning speech on dark skin. At that time I focused on Alek Wek, the very dark skin and beautiful Sudanese model. In the speech I spoke about how black people in particular did not find Alek attractive or representative of what black beauty should be.
How ironic is it that Alek Wek, like Lupita Nyong’o was also on the cover of a mainstream white magazine, “Cosmopolitan” I still have that copy of Alek dressed in a beautiful white suit, up against her shining beautiful chocolate skin.
I will never forget the horrible feeling of rejection after giving the winning speech. The black males in the audience were not supportive of what I had to say and were very vocal about it. What they did not realize is that it was to them that I was speaking. It was their approval of dark skin as beautiful that I was seeking. So while I am ecstatic for Lupita’s Most Beautiful person of 2014 win, I still long to have black men validate dark skin women as beautiful.
To black men’s credit, the last time I can remember them fully embracing the beauty of a dark skin woman in the mainstream was in the late 1990s during the reign of the beautiful Lauryn Hill.
Her recognition as beautiful by black men was apparent. From magazine covers to shout outs, black men were feeling Lauryn Hill. I was a teenager at the time of her reign and can remember black boys saying how fine she was. Oh how great I felt because for me her recognition as beautiful translated to all other dark skin black girls being seen as beautiful.
Then all of a sudden the beautiful and classy representative of dark skin women was gone like the wind from the public scene. What a disappointment! Lauryn was all over the place, dark skin, dread locked and representing the beauty of dark skin to the fullest. How could she do this to us I thought? How could she just up and disappear just when us dark skin girls were gaining so much momentum.
After Lauryn Hill left the public scene, not many dark skinned women were elevated in the mass media, which made it hard to find a dark skin woman in the public arena to represent the beauty of dark skin, but of course, we had to carry on.
However, there were some who did break through. There was Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson and the ever talented Viola Davis. For me these women represented the continuation of the dark skin beauty revolution that actually began when the first African slave woman set foot on the American soil.
These women were beautiful like so many of the dark skin beautiful women walking around the United States on a daily basis that do not get their proper recognition. You see these beauties in the store, on college campuses, at work and in the beauty salons. They are everywhere. Yet I can’t help but think that the African slave women did not know at the time of their arrival that it was going to be a long hard fight for dark skin women to be recognized as equally beautiful as compared to other races and ethnicities.
Then in 2008 something amazing happened. The first lady of the United States was a beautiful dark skin woman. She was classy, smart, powerful and most of all dark skin. Once again, I viewed this as win for the dark skin beauty revolutionary movement.
It’s amazing in a world full of beautiful dark skin women how for hundreds of years we have had to fight for our beauty to be recognized. History has shown that people have fought for thousands of years in wars for all kinds of things, yet dark skin women are the only women in history that have had to fight a war to be seen as beautiful.
So what’s the next step in this beauty revolution? For me it goes back to that speech I gave in 1999 on the beauty of dark skin women. I ask the question when will black men on a massive world-wide scale begin to recognize the beauty of dark skin women? When that day comes I can truly be happy to know that finally us dark skin women have won the beauty war.