Ann Arbor, MI
My grandparents often travel from Pakistan to come visit my family once or twice a year. Growing up, my grandma would bring me tubes of “Fair & Lovely” lotion. It is a lotion that apparently bleaches your skin to make it “whiter”. It felt like brown beauty wasn’t good enough. It sent a message that said that beauty is something you achieve instead of something you already have. It was a message that said the standard I had to strive for was that of a White woman. There is this colonial mentality surrounding beauty that sends women the message that white beauty is the only real beauty. American media perpetuates this by under-representing women of color. When women of color are finally represented, they are the supportive side friend, the hired help, or the exotic/troublemaking woman. We need another cultural movement like the 1960s “Black is Beautiful” movement. Maybe, “Color is Cute”…okay so the slogan could use some work. But, I choose to reject the cycle of socialization that tells us that people of color’s natural features and skin color is inferior or less attractive than those of Whites. My grandmother still visits and brings tubes of Fair&Lovely in hopes that my younger cousins will start using it. I just grab the bottles from their hands and shake my head letting them know they don’t need to be white to be lovely.