Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there. I’ll tell you how I became a confident woman in my own skin (you thought I was going to say “became the prince of a town called Bel-Air right? Ha…I wish).
Like every child of the 90s, I grew up watching reruns of television shows like, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, A Different World, Living Single, Family Matters, (and for some reason I fell in love with The Golden Girls, Cheers, and Three’s Company but that is beside the point). Among all of those shows, I vividly remember the many times I sat in front of the television watching the first Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince…before they replaced her character with a woman with a lighter skin tone.
From an early age, I formed a connection with her role because she was the first woman I saw on television with just as much melanin in her skin as mine. With every episode, I would take mental notes of the woman I desired to be when I grew up. Vivian Banks was a strong woman with a confidence and beauty that entered a room before her presence ever stepped inside. She fearlessly spoke her mind and handled all conflict in the classiest manner while never compromising her dignity. She was admired by her children and desired by her husband. She defied all of the stereotypes that I would soon encounter as a darker-skinned woman in hue-obsessed America of being less attractive, less intelligent, and less desired.
There was a point in my life where men could not see past my skin color. I’ve heard plenty of insulting remarks but most people don’t voice their color bias, whether man or woman. It is a hidden belief that they operate in silently because the high-pitch tone of their ignorance quiets their mouth. It is an ignorant belief with roots in slavery that have caused some in the black community to believe that the level of my beauty is affected by the shade of my skin because I don’t pass the paper bag test. The only thing worse than complete ignorance is false knowledge accepted as truth.
Imagine this. There are two identical million-dollar homes built right next to each other. Both have ten bedrooms, twelve bathrooms, granite countertops, marble flooring, crown molding, and a heated jacuzzi and Olympic-size pool in the backyard. Beautiful, right? One day, the news reports a major storm coming their way and the families of both homes decide to evacuate. The storm eventually passes and both families come back to check on their houses. One family is relieved to see that their house is untouched and still standing. The other family is devastated because their home has collapsed and is severely damaged. Now, if the homes were identical to each other then why was one still standing and why did the other one collapse? Although, it was the same storm that hit identical homes it affected each home differently because of the foundation each home was built upon.
When I was younger, my self-esteem was built on the approval and validation of other people. So, as long as men were validating me and the sun was shining, then my self-esteem appeared beautiful and of high-value. But the moment I would encounter the storm of being rejected on the basis of my skin color, I would come back to find that my self-esteem had collapsed because the rejection I faced had taken away the validation I depended on to uphold the structure of my self-esteem.
As I got older, I learned the importance of validating myself and I realized the beauty in the shade of my skin to the point where I thank God for the extra dosage of melanin he sprinkled over me. I’m not defined by the shade of my skin, although I do love it. I take pride in everything that I am and I live every day like Aunt Viv. I’m a strong woman with a confidence and beauty that enters a room before my presence ever steps inside and I fearlessly speak my mind and handle all conflict in the classiest manner while never compromising my dignity.
I refuse to ever diminish my self-worth or the magnitude of my confidence because someone has chosen to subscribe to the historical ignorance of colorism. I can’t control how others view me, but I can control how I view myself and I am a confident million-dollar house created in the image of God and built upon self-validation. That is who I AM.