Proud of the Brown Skin I’m In
In my culture, the lighter you are the better. But I think my brown skin is beautiful.
There are more than 650 different types of ethnicities in the world. So many colors define us and our opinions about these shades vary just as much as our skin color does.
As a girl in her early twenties in Bangladesh (a country in South Asia surrounded on three sides by India), I would call myself “Brown.” But brown itself has so many different shades! In our culture, the lighter brown you are, the better. Having a child with dark skin is a cause of despair for parents as they are not particularly considered beautiful.
I know what this mindset can do to a little girl.
I’m a little on the darker side of brown, and I grew up feeling lesser (even slightly embarrassed) among my fairer skinned relatives. My complexion is like my father’s while my mother and brother have a lighter tone. When I was little, my father always made me feel special. In his eyes, I was his “beautiful daughter.” I was like my father, and I was proud of it.
But as I grew older and my world started to expand beyond my father’s loving gaze, I began to think something probably wasn’t right with me. Friends, relatives, and complete strangers would see me with my fair-skinned mother and exclaim in shock and disappointment: “Oh! She must have taken after her father.” They didn’t see this as something to take pride in.
There are all kinds of people more beautiful than our lame beauty standards could understand.
I had a cousin who was the same shade of brown as me, and her mother would constantly comment on her dark skin, saying how she “should never have married that man and gotten her offspring in a pickle with his lesser genes.” My cousin, a girl, like me, would have to be married off, and “no boy wants to marry a girl with dark skin.” For them, finding my cousin a husband who was as fair-skinned as possible was top priority. The fairer, the better so that none of their future kids inherit the mother’s dark coloring.
Older women in the family would advise me to perform various skin care routines to get lighter skin. They told…