Today, I’m going to be sharing with us the story of a lady that is super super special to me. Her name is Boluwatife, a recent secondary school graduate awaiting entry into the University of Ilorin to study English. Tife is really pretty and she is beautifully dark-skinned but according to her, this has been the major source of her insecurities. When she told me her story, I felt really bad mainly because I was a part of those people who stereotyped her for being black. Although, I have apologized to her, I’d like to publicly say again that I’m sorry, Tife for making you feel that way and thank you for sharing your story with us.
“Growing up, I was very insecure about my complexion. It started in my house. Being the darkest of three girls, my sisters had weird nicknames for me like ‘blackie dudu’. We also had a neighbour who called me ‘aja dudu’. In English, that would mean ‘black dog’. When they called me such names, everyone would laugh, including me. Beyond my smiles however, these names got to me but they didn’t know, for a smile can conceal emotions far more than any makeup can.
Whenever I did something excessively or bad at home, it was usually attached to my being black. For instance, if I ate too much noodles, my mum could say, “Keep eating it. That’s why you are black”, or if I rubbed my skin with too much Vaseline, to the discomfort of my sisters, they could say “The vaseline you are using is too much. That’s why you are black.” Every reason attached to why I was black was bad. Nobody referred my being black to something good.
I would feel bad but since I was very uncomfortable with the whole idea of bleaching, I knew I was not going to do it. My mum would tell us how she used to be really dark and how she toned down a little bit with growth. So, I grew up thinking with time, I would become lighter but I was disappointed.
I would admire fair people. It seemed like the world celebrated them. Most of the models I saw on TV were fair and I remember thinking then that if they were as black as I am, they would not be as pretty as they were.
My friends also made hurting jokes about my complexion. Even those ones that were also black. I would reply and call them ‘pots calling the kettle black’ but as some point, it started to feel like people were just saying these things to make me feel bad or see what I would do.
There was this time at my tutorial – while I was preparing for my UTME exams, I sat beside a fair girl and then, this guy at our front started singing ‘Black and Yellow’. I found it really annoying. Of course, I wasn’t the only subject of the song but as in most cases, the fair lady would have taken it as a compliment.
There was this other time, I was walking on the road and some guys passed me. One of them was going to come back to talk to me, I guess but I ever knew. Before he even made a turn, I heard his friend say, “shey o fe ma fe omo dudu ni?” If translated in English, that would mean, “Do you want to start dating a black girl?”
Things like that could actually affect one’s self esteem, you know. I would tell myself there is a reason God has made me black, I was just yet to discover it. I knew I couldn’t just be black for nothing.
I started becoming confident about my skin when I realized how inconsistent the world is. Today, a lot of fair girls are being yabbed and called derogatory names on social media like witches, etc. That’s insulting but it just shows how trends change in the society.
I also realized that once you start changing the idea of how you look within yourself, seeing it not as a deformity and saying that to yourself, you’d start to see the light of it. When I started seeing my black as beautiful, I realized there were actually people who had all along, been saying good things about my complexion. I was just too clouded in my negative thoughts to see.
Now, I’m really beginning to see the good side. My complexion makes me stand out. It gets me noticed first in a crowd and I’ve learnt to bounce derogatory jokes back, especially those made by fair people. I know I’m really pretty and I tell them that if with being black, I’m still this fine, I wonder how they would look if they were black.
I have stopped calling what is as though it is not, or giving it synonyms to tone down its implication. My complexion does not affect who I would be or the impact I would make. I love my black and So, I let it shine.”
There again we have it. When Tife told me all these, I had to apologize to her. I’m really sorry I made her feel that way. Personally, I think we all should try being sensitive to other people. We might be the victims of a stereotype today, but we also might have laughed at or said some hurtful things to somebody else yesterday. While some may mean it when they laugh at our jokes, others may just be covering the pain with a smile. That’s one thing Tife’s story has taught me – being sensitive.
I am actually also dark and I have met a lot of girls who cringe at the prospect of being black. If you called them black or just hinted that they might be getting a little darker, they would retort annoyingly and defensively show you their thighs or arms or other parts of their bodies, covered from the sun just to prove their point. A girl was once telling me about how she couldn’t date a boy because he was too too dark, only for her to stop halfway, as if hit by a sudden realization and say, “but he is not as dark as you though.’
Now you wonder why some girls bleach? They were pushed to. We’ll tell ourselves we are not dating dark guys, because we don’t want dark babies and blah. I can’t guarantee that all these would stop soon or even ever stop, but if we could come to love ourselves just the way we are, if we could come to believe God has really made us beautiful, that’s the only way the compromise to alter our skin color won’t come cheap.
Till later, just like Tife, if you feel there is a purpose attached to why you look the way you do, ask God to help you see it and consequently live it. okay? So, can you relate with Tife’s story? you can tell us about it in the comment box below.