You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl.

Detroit, MI

I think almost every dark-skinned black girl goes through a phase (that hopefully she grows out of) where she doesn’t believe she is beautiful in this ideally white society. But what can you expect when she is emerged in a society that constantly bombards her with the ideology “the lighter the better?” Black women in general go to great lengths to feel and be recognized as beautiful in a white supremacist society (for ex. relaxers to straighten our “nappy” or “bad” hair, and weaves or extensions made from the long and wavy hair of Indian women across the globe, and the list goes on). But, from my experience, it is even harder for a dark-skinned black woman to achieve or come close to this standard of beauty and be recognized as beautiful. It’s considered rare or abnormal to see a “beautiful” dark-skinned black woman. I’d be rich if I got a dollar for every time I’ve heard “Oh my gosh! For a dark-skinned girl, you are really pretty!” That’s such an insult! “No. I’m just pretty, or beautiful. Or whatever adjective you’d like to throw on there.” The extremely tight curls that naturally grows from my scalp and my dark-skinned complexion is all apart of my beauty BUT it’s the ‘for a dark-skinned girl’ is what turns what was probably an intentional compliment into a direct insult on the community of dark-skinned women. It’s to say that dark-skinned girls aren’t usually pretty or supposed to be pretty. One, for example, wouldn’t say, “For a white girl, or for a light-skinned girl, you are really pretty!” Of course not, that’s normalized in this society; white girls and lighter skinned women are “expected” to be pretty. For future reference to “compliment” a dark-skinned black woman who you find attractive, try this approach instead, “You are beautiful.” It’s as simple as that.


Tweets by Michele Norris