“What a black beauty!” has been a common reference to many dark skinned girls, and even boys, within the Somali community. See in our community, beauty was never something that was exclusive to lighter skinned people.
We are a people who have many shades of brown, some more lighter and some darker. And the beautiful young girls with darker skin were always praised for – their darker skin complexion. But at times they were also never pleased to be referred to as – blackies.
I was surprised, to say the least, when I understood that only light skinned girls were ever considered beautiful in many other African communities. I find the many shades of brown to have so much great and very beautiful appeal.
And yes, I am guilty of trying to lighten up my skin at one time – I avoided direct sunlight at some point in my early twenties – I even used a skin tone complexion at one time, only I came to my senses and stopped, after a short while.
People were often praised for their smiles, their teeth, their gums, their eyes, their hair, their height and their complexion. And guess what, it is not only the tall that got praised for their stature, the short were praised as well for being petite.
Wherever there was a feature that was considered beautiful on any person – praise was abundant. And sometimes the very same physical traits that were praised were the very same that were ridiculed – ”Beware of light skinned men”, is one. Their beauty is not that of the brains.
And I think it could be a darker skinned man who could have minted such a phrase, or maybe the mother to one. Could it maybe have been the mother to a girl who was criticising a light complexioned man for his treatment of her daughter? Anyways…
And even though it is our physical features that are the first that people see of us, the very easy to evaluate and talk about – our personal characteristics are what is still valued more – and this is a reality in many cultures.
As a mother to African children, I think it is very important that we praise our children for their physical beauty. Teach them the value of their beautiful white smiles, the twinkle in their eyes, the beautiful things one can do to the different textures of their hair. Praise their different shades of brown – and most of their physical traits.
All so that they too can start noticing the beauty of the African child – it is what we are all identified by anyways – the colour of our skins. Long before someone asks of our names, or knows of who we are.
Having said this, the more important personal traits – our characters, let’s remember to teach of the value they have.
They are the beautiful as well.