There’s No Unspoken Rule That Being a Dark Girl Means Being Insecure

Something has been on my mind for a week or so. I’ve been re-reading BB’s interview with Myliek Teele (who literally made me want to get my hustle game on point after we finished chatting), and I found myself rummaging over one line from her interview:

Oh gosh, people write me too and ask “how are you so dark and so confident?”

It really sat on my mind for so long that I started to question if every single dark skinned girl in this world has felt the need to be insecure, because of course we’re not supposed to be confident with all of this melanin adorning our bodies.

Also, notice I say, “need”. More on that later.

When I was younger, I didn’t’ know that I was dark skin. I actually didn’t care. I did, however, remember being called daddy’s little pretty chocolate drop…gosh I miss him.

It didn’t make me feel as though he was saying I was a pretty “for a dark skin girl”. It only meant to me that my daddy thought I was beautiful, and that I should think the same of myself, and that was that. Children really do register everything said to them. I thank God that I had a father, and still have a mother and entire family, that instilled internal and external confidence in me growing up. What we tell the youth is usually what they grow to believe. Choose wisely.

Insecurity didn’t really make it’s introduction to me until the 5th grade when Dexter told the class that I was a very “dark girl” after our teacher proclaimed that I was “very bright” after I stood up and answered a question correctly. I don’t remember the class laughing or anything. I actually don’t even think anyone paid Dexter any attention. But, what I do remember feeling, in my 5th grade mind, was that no one had told me that there was something wrong with me or the way I looked, or wrong with me liking the way I looked. As far as I was concerned, I was normal as shit and beautiful as shit and perfectly fine the way I was…and shit.

And then, Dexter happened. It only lasted for a short while, the thought of needing to feel like there was something wrong with me because of my complexion that is. Maybe a little into middle school. But other than that, I was rather confident in who I was and how looked throughout my life.

But that’s the whole point of my spiel. As dark women, we are taught that we need to somehow not feel secure in being darker women. There is this wide, unspoken rule that if you so happened to be a darker person, you must find your way through gloom and insecurity over your skin color.

Think about how frustrating it must be to be a person with confidence who is constantly being told that they can’t have confidence and must find something wrong with themselves because everyone else feels they should.

It’s like that scene in Sex and the City where the girls are gathered around playing cards, talking about their most hated feature and when they get to Samantha, she has nothing to complain about. Why? Because she freaking liked the way she looked. The girls looked so shocked after she said this.

I don’t honestly think anyone is born feeling wrongly done by how they turned out. It’s society and unfortunately sometimes our upbringing that forces us to feel as though there is something wrong with us.

When you’re conditioned to feel confident, which I was luckily conditioned to feel, you’re more than likely going to question the forces that are telling you that you shouldn’t (think, Kanye).

And when you question and challenge those forces, you will usually find yourself in a whirlwind of frustration trying to figure out why you’re not supposed to be happy, confident, and secure with yourself, your dreams and your purpose.

That’s the kicker: fighting that unspoken rule of not being able to love and like yourself as a Dark Girl, when you didn’t even know that you couldn’t love and like yourself.

This world cray.

So, for all of my Dark Girls out there, let’s pretend that the unspoken rule that being darker equates to being insecure never existed. And if you have lived by that rule (no judgment, we all have to find ourselves somehow), let Beautifully Brown and I help you de-program that thought and re-program your mind with confidence and a new rulebook written and enforced by you.

  • Von

    This is one unspoken rule of many I’ve never really followed and never will. I’ve been rejecting that belief of being less-than-beautiful all of my life, especially when others tried to impose it on me as if it should apply to me. My parents didn’t teach me to reject my own beauty and I can honestly say I never allowed anyone else to define my beauty either. I let folks assume what they want to until I have to let them know that assumption doesn’t apply to me.

    Over the years I’ve counseled so many confident and richly hued women who were often treated with disdain for unapologetically loving who they are and they could not understand why they were treated so badly. I told them that many of their fellow black women treated them this way because they were not supposed to be loving themselves just as they are. They believe you’re supposed to have a low self-esteem about yourself and when you don’t demonstrate that you do, they become judgemental and attempt to project their insecurities onto you.

    Thanks for starting the conversation that so many don’t want to have when it comes to self- confidence.

    • Melanie Yvette

      Thank you so much for your comment and participating in the conversation. We’re here to have the “other” convo…the ones that get uncomfortable, but that we need to have in order to heal. I’m so happy that not every woman who is richly hued follows that ridiculous belief. Hopefully we can inspire other women like us to also not follow the “unspoken rule” that we’re not supposed to love or like ourselves.

  • GettingThere

    As a dark-skinned woman (23), I’m still learning how to get to a point of fully accepting myself as I am as I really want to reject the notion that I SHOULD feel/think like this and compare myself to what society keeps pushing as “conventionally and acceptably attractive.” or what is accepted as “attractive” when one is a black woman (light skin, small nose, 4a hair) It’s hard when you’re not represented as beautiful in most contexts and the world seems to be doing everything in it’s power to make you hate yourself.

    Growing up I was in a majority white area outside of a city, sometimes mocked because of my dark skin, rarely told I am attractive/beautiful as I grew up (except by family, friends and,occasionally, non-British men when abroad) or told I’m ugly and lived in a household where, despite my mother coming across as loving who she is (she’s not dark). Although I was raised to be confident in my abilities I feel it wasn’t necessarily pushed to make sure I’m secure in my skin as a young, dark-skinned black woman.

    This caused me to develop a certain view of myself that switches between feeling upset that due to my personality people seem to not consider me “black” whilst others view me as aesthetically “too black”. I then moved to a majority white university in London and it wasn’t until I surrounded myself with other young, black people and became friends beautiful, confident black women of all shades that I started to understand what it meant to love and embrace yourself as a black woman – four years later and I am still on that road.

    Despite improving a lot since my high school days, I feel that the insecurities that I developed due to how I grew up and what I experienced still rise on occasion and that many of us dark-skinned women have had to take this journey of learning how to self-love. When you grow up not surrounded by many examples of strong, dark black women, it’s hard to break out of the mindest. I follow lots of blogs that promote dark-skin beauty to help me feel better and they do on good days, however, I feel that as a dark women, you often have to be above average to even be looked at as attractive, but lighter women have it a little easier in that context so this can also make this journey difficult.

    Anyway, to end my spiel I agree that anyone who thinks like I do or was raised in an environment that has programmed them to constantly see the flaws in their rich, dark skin, wide nose, full lips and masses of curls (tight or otherwise) should definitely try to walk the road to self-love. It is so important that we as dark women embrace our natural selves. Thank you for your article – we need literature like your article and representation too. Hearing stories from people like ourselves is fundamental to promoting change.

    • Melanie Yvette

      Hi GettingThere-

      First, Happy New Year!

      Second, your comment made me cry real thug tears. Third, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to you.

      I feel ounce, every inch of what you’re saying. I especially agree that to some degree, mainstream media makes is so that dark-skinned women have to be so highly, above and beyond attractiveness, while lighter women, white women, too, are praised for sometimes just being that. It doesn’t happen all of the time. But it DOES happen often.

      I may write about that. It’s unfair. But then, it raises the question: what is above, beyond average attractiveness? That’s a whole other story.

      What I wanted to say was this: I’m so there in understanding how you feel about being on a journey to truly, fully accepting yourself as a beautiful woman. Not just a beautiful, dark woman; that’s an insult in my head. While I don’t have many moments of feeling less prettier than my lighter peers/friends, etc, I can for sure say that that insecurity creeps back up on me every now and then.

      So, GettingThere, here’s what we can do, even if it’s via the internet: we can continue to uplift each other, little by little. You see a darker woman, tell her she’s beautiful. You see a little darker girl, praise her beauty. I’ll do my part if you do yours 🙂

      Melanie Yvette

  • Lanay Foat

    Sad to say I can relate.. I was raised in a white suburban racially diverse insects their wasn’t too many black people out the 7 years I lived as a small child from pri kay at 4year of age but I was born in an urban area being that said I felt happy, safe and confident, and my mom and people I knew never told me otherwise then at 12 to now at 23 we moved around to somewhere more urban for my mother it noting new but for me I wasn’t used to it after while I started to think was their something wrong with me that I didn’t see but they did only the black kids would make fun of me or talk behind my back over time I felt suck in depression and insecure where I stop to care how I looked once I stopped going to school after another 7 years I moved aging till now aging u starting going too a church which help me in many ways right along with my confidence but the issues I still keep a hold of it and I’m trying to freely let go to work on my own happiness and life