Yes, I know you are darker than me, you don't have to put your arm up against mine to prove it.
Growing up I had 'skin color envy'. It was bad and I let it rule my life, mainly in my teenage years. If you know me, you know I am white. I don't necessarily mean 'white' as in Caucasian, I mean I am WHITE!
I never realized how white I was until I was in middle school, just in time for my teenage hormonal years! I never flinched when a girl or a boy put their arm or their leg up against mine and said in a shocking and amazed voice, 'WOW! I am really darker than you!' or they would call me a ghost or any other creative and fun names that I've washed away from my memory. My all time favorite 'tease' was from a boy in Health class. We were learning about albinos and he raised his hand and asked, 'Is Aimee an albino?'. Of course the class laughed (not the teacher, she was really good at keeping a straight face) and I looked at him w my evil eyes. Inside, I will admit, it was funny, but I would never let him know that.
With all of the unsolicited criticism I decided I would try and add some 'color' to my skin. I did the obvious and laid out in the sun which led to a burn, which turned to pink, which added 50 extra freckles to my skin and then turned back to white. I heard about a product called Jergens Natural Glow, which helped to add color to your skin so that you would look healthy and not have to lay in the harmful sun. I was excited! This was it, I was going to have a normal complexion. I lathered the Jergens on my arms, my stomach, and my legs. I did not do my face because it warned against it. A few hours later I looked at my stomach... drum roll... it was ORANGE! At least I did not have to expose my stomach at school, so that was a relief. At the time my legs and arms looked pretty good. They were actually a nice shade of brown. I had a tan, I could not stop looking at my arms and legs. I was over the top ecstatic. I could not wait to go to school the next day.
The next day I went to school like any other normal day. I did not dare say anything about my new discovery. I would hate for people to make fun of me about my fake tan. No one said anything about my new skin color. Did they not notice, had it rubbed off, why were they not saying anything? Well, sad to say, they were about to notice. It was 'A' day which means it was PE day. After dressing into our gym clothes (shorts, shirt and tennis shoes), we all proceeded into the bright sunlight to run track. BAM, there it was, the laughter and the giggles behind me. I soon realized that the front of my legs had a decent shade of tan- like brown but the back side of my legs were a tan-like brown w white streaks. Yes, I was careless and had not put it on evenly. What can I say, I was only 13 and not an expert.
Sad to say it took me years to stop having 'skin color envy', but now that I no longer have 'skin color envy' I can live my life happy being 'white'. Yes, I am 'WHITE'. YES, my legs GLOW when I go outside, so you'd better put some sunglasses on. YES, I still put on sunblock even though, some would say, my skin needs some color. No, I don't wear pantyhose to add color to my legs when I wear dresses. It is what it is!
I know that many cultures have the same skin issues as I did. I have heard that each culture has their own group of people saying what they think your acceptable skin tone is. You are either too dark or too light. If you ask me, it is such an unnecessary stress.
What is your story? Does your culture have skin tone issues? Did you grow up too dark or too light? Share.. especially if it's worse than mine.
Written by: Aimee Fauci