An age-old conversation about colorism in the music industry has resurfaced over the last few weeks due to a viral clip from Rick Ross’ 2017 VH1 competition “Signed” that shows the MMG founder favoring Just Brittany, a light-skinned artist whose performance wasn’t as strong as that of her dark-skinned opponent, Kaila. Also in Black Twitter news, DaniLeigh, a Dominican-American singer and songwriter, also faced backlash for her song "Yellow Bone," which she described as an anthem for light-skinned women. I mean, was that really needed??
Unfortunately, this is not a new trend. The preference for lighter skin tones has been seen in movies,TV shows, music videos, fashion and more. It is the idea of falsely believing that lighter is better, and in my own experience, is far too common in the Black community. This fetishizing of light-skinned Black people has affected the self-esteem of many darker-toned Black girls and women.
I spoke with Jasmine Dobbs, an accomplished Bikini Competitor, Fitness Coach, and System Design and Integration Specialist (YASS, SIS!), who grew up as the darkest out of her siblings and one of the darkest in her family. She shared her journey on valuing the beauty of all skin types, but more importantly, her own dark complexion.
“Growing up being the ‘chocolate’ girl had its ups and downs,” said Jasmine.“I was called every black name you can think of. It got to the point where I did wish I had lighter skin.”
These ideas of wanting to be accepted, or wanting to be “beautiful,” are relatable, yet very concerning. There shouldn’t be limitations on which skin tone is beautiful or not.
Jasmine, who graduated from Clark Atlanta University and is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, explained that an interaction with an orientation leader changed her whole perspective on her complexion.
“When I first started college at Clark Atlanta University and attended orientation, the orientation guide who had lighter skin and bright eyes, pointed to me and said ‘You are absolutely beautiful. Your skin complexion is crazy. It's gorgeous!’ and I was in total shock,” said Jasmine. “At that moment, I let go of all my insecurities about my skin complexion and realized that nothing was wrong with being chocolate.”
From one chocolate girl to another, I couldn’t agree more. I believe it is important for us to all understand our worth and know that we are more than just a shade of brown. Our diverse characteristics make us unique, and we should embrace our differences and stop letting people feed us this messed up idea that you aren’t valuable unless you’re light. I feel like the first step to healing is to support each other.
Jasmine expressed that the support from family and friends helped her to gain confidence in her darker skin.
“I was blessed to have people in my life tell me how beautiful I am and how much they loved my skin,” said Jasmine. “My mom, big sister, teachers, cheerleading coach and friends always complimented my skin. I'm grateful for that because it was hard being chocolate. I use the word chocolate because everyone loves chocolate. I turned the negative into a positive.”
By acknowledging the effects of colorism and creating positive conversations by educating others, we can help all Black girls and women find confidence in self.
Dobbs is helping other women find confidence through her brand "Halfway There Fitness".
Halfway There is a brand that signifies a fitness journey to motivate and encourage people to stay on their fitness path. It represents optimism and positivity for anyone that needs that extra push to stay on track.
“I came up with this business name to represent my mom who I lost at 8 years old to gun violence. Her name was June and June is the halfway mark of a year,” said Jasmine. “My goal when I train and coach women is to build their confidence along with accomplishing their fitness goals. I feel like every woman should be happy and confident when they look at themselves. Once you start your journey, you’re halfway to where you want to be.”
Jasmine’s journey to finding confidence started with self-reflection and creating a safe space for other girls and women to celebrate their differences.
“I had to learn to love my skin tone because most people looked at it as if it was bad to be dark,” said Jasmine. “I started hyping all women with darker complexions up. I made sure people knew I was proud of how dark my skin was. It's no longer something I have to cope with or feel bad about. I LOVE IT HERE!”She encourages fitness to be a part of anyone’s journey to gaining confidence, and feels it is often overlooked in the Black community.
“Fitness is important to me because when you look good, you feel good. A lot of diseases and illnesses in the Black community can be prevented by health and fitness,” said Jasmine. “But your journey never stops. You reach goals and have new goals. You accomplish things and look for what's next. You’re always halfway to where you want to be!”
Thanks, Jasmine, for being a light to others and representing for all dark-skinned women!
To keep up with Jasmine and her journey to greatness, I encourage you to follow her on Instagram!
And, remember to come back to my blog as I highlight stories of how others have overcome colorism.
I am DarkkskinShay, and I am unapologetically a dark-skinned Black woman.
Signing off until next time!