In my last post, A Look Back…The Genesis of the Veil I took a look back at how the “veiling” began. The documentary, Dark Girls, the controversial film show on the OWN network, explored the prejudices that dark-skinned women face throughout the world. It also explored the root, among other things, the lack self-esteem and the lost of self-identity.
I remember as I child, an only child, some one gave me a “white” doll. It was one of those walking dolls. I clearly remember looking at that doll and thiking it was the ugliest thing I had even seen, scary even. I hated that doll. I didn’t take it out the box for sometime after receiving because, to me she was hideous. I am by far not a bigot, but I remember that her blond hair and blues eyes and peach skin was ugly to me. I am not sure why. One day, I decided to take her out of the box. It was was supposed to be a walking doll. She didn’t walk. I threw her against the wall. I didn’t care at first and then I felt bad, so I picked her up and put her back in the box.
I don’t think this was the beginning of my self identity. I don’t recall not liking the doll because of her skin tone. Or maybe I did. All I know, is when I got my “black” wee wee doll for Christmas, I WAS IN LOVE! She was me and I was her.
So the question is when did I look in the mirror and decide that I was not pretty? That my chocolate brown skin made me undesirable? I grew up in the era of “Black is Beautiful” with images of smooth chocolate skin adorned with big black Afros.
The Genesis for me was the constant reminder of black vs. white. The adult ideologies of the civil rights movement planted in my head. The stories of the “brown bag” test, something I was not even born yet to experience. The subtlety of my grand-mother demanding me to smooth my nose and squeeze my lips; only to later find out that it was her feeble attempt to reshape my face to European features. Her telling me not to marry and have babies with a man my complexion or I will produce Albino babies. That was the moment I began the journey of self-hate. Yet still, my wee wee doll reminded me of a place in time where my innocence was pure and untouched.
As an adult, those experiences still plague me. As I fight to find myself, I remain encouraged that slowly and carefully, the veil is coming off.
I am unveiling the beauty within.