When Will We Stop Equating Beauty with Light Skin?

Me and my siblings had just finished swimming, for hours, in the blistering hot Texas sun. We had a blast, and stayed there until we were exhausted. But when I got home, all of that excitement was wiped out in a second. It took just one look in the mirror for me break down into tears, due to the trauma from what I saw…

I had tanned. A lot.

Growing up, I didn’t understand what really differentiated me from my white peers. I was born and raised in America, just like most of them. I liked the same foods and read the same books. I had the same sense of humor and understood all of the popular references. When I was at school, hanging out with my friends, I felt like we were all the same. Just kids. But somewhere along the line, this changed.

I became exposed to an unpleasant reality that many girls who look like me are forced into. It is a worldview in which light skin represents the epitome of beauty, even if there is a black heart hidden behind it. Strangely, this perspective was not pushed onto me by the white people in my life, but by the people who are as dark-skinned as I am. Their words may have been, “White is beautiful,” but the message my young mind absorbed was, “Brown is ugly.”

It is a worldview in which light skin represents the epitome of beauty, even if there is a black heart hidden behind it.

This happens as a consequence of people having an inferiority complex which they are yet to overcome, and pushing that sense of inadequacy on others (particularly younger women and girls). They tell them to stay out of the sun, so they won’t tan. They label them in insulting ways because of their darker skin color, and try to pass it off as using “nicknames.” They praise the girls with a light complexion, simply for being light-skinned.

They write “Complexion: Fair” on their daughters’ “Biodatas,”/arranged marriage profiles, even if it’s not entirely true — as if being pale is a selling point for marriage. Or if they have a son, they actively seek out a light-skinned girl to be his wife. I’ve actually heard the justification for this being stated as, if the daughter-in-law has a light skin tone, then the couple will have fair-skinned babies. As if the reason for marrying someone should be to try to breed some kind of “superior,” whiter generation.

Then the wedding day comes, and they load on layers of white makeup on the bride, even if it doesn’t match her natural skin tone at all. Some even go to the extent of using whitening creams, despite their possible negative side effects. And the list goes on…

What girls need to hear, especially at their most fragile and impressionable ages, is that they are beautiful, just the way God created them. And that what really determines their worth is not the color of their skin, but their upright behavior, God-consciousness, and pure thoughts and intentions.

What all of this results in is a generation of people who believe they are inferior, simply for being born with a certain skin color. This is absolutely unacceptable. Making a person feel this way, whether they have dark or light skin, is immoral and un-Islamic. What girls need to hear, especially at their most fragile and impressionable ages, is that they are beautiful, just the way God created them. And that what really determines their worth is not the color of their skin, but their upright behavior, God-consciousness, and pure thoughts and intentions.

“A white has no superiority over black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white, except by God-consciousness (taqwa) and good action.” — Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in his last sermon

5 comments

  1. Good to see an educated effort.. unfortunately it will need a very huge effort to change this .. specially in Asian and middle eastern cultures… we are the by products of colonialism and white superiority is deep in our psyche..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *