The Melanin series

Keletso Nameng (19)

“beauty to me is what you have achieved, what you work for. Being able to stand up for yourself ,voice your opinion and empower”

Skin tone seems to dictate the idea of a black girl’s beauty, which leaves us asking if the shade our skin is  socially acceptable?! Does this mean that we have an identity crisis? Keletso seems to think we do, arguing that our desire to lighten our skin and have longer, silkier and straight hair are blatent symbols of the dissatisfaction we have with appearance.

From her perspective, the colour of her skin will always be a defining factor of her beauty. “I never compare my beauty to a white person’s beauty because I feel I’ve already lost”. This is shockingly apparent for many black women. Keletso further explains that the colour white is always associated with purity, beauty and goodness as opposed to black which is always associated with darkness, fear and dirt. This is an unfortunate truth, we are raised in a society that feeds us inferences about our beauty before we define them for ourselves.

In my mention of Lupita Nyong’o as a revelation for black beauty around world, Keletso quickly shocks me with a different perspective “when she was on MTV living in Africa we didn’t care about her, not until Europeans put her on Vogue magazine, wearing expensive clothes did we think she was pretty. White people validate us, we always wait for their confirmation”.

Based on my conversation with Keletso I realise that we’ve had misguided perceptions of our beauty. Our skin colour is not the problem, but rather what I associate it with. I think the most important question to ask is where to from here? Now that we know the reality of what we actually think of ourselves. How can we change our perceptions of beauty?!

I will leave this conversation with a quote to ponder upon, perhaps the battle about skin is far more complex than we believe it to be. “Against Him those women sin who torment their skin with potions, stain their cheeks with rouge and extend the line of their eye with black colouring. Doubtless they are dissatisfied with God’s plastic skill. In their own persons they convince and censure the artificer of all things” – Tertullian

Peace, love and grace be upon you.



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