As a South African person, whether you are plugged into the social networks or not, you have come across the term “yellow-bone”. A yellow-bone is a black African woman or man that is light in skin colour complexion and generally speaking, this makes them more desirable and attractive than a dark skinned person. If you have ever wondered about some of the reasons for a black person walking in the sun with an umbrella, it’s most probably because they don’t want to get darker, not necessarily to prevent skin cancer. It’s not just an African problem. In Asia, light skinned Indians are thought to be better than dark skinned Indians and its common for them not marry or date across the colour shade. I have only seen light skinned people in Bollywood movies, and it is true that success in the industry increases substantially if you are fair. As a student of History with a large interest in anthropology and cultural exchange, I have sourced some suggestions as to why darker “just doesn’t work”.
What is so wrong with getting darker? That is not a rhetorical question, it’s a question that we are going to embark on because minds and lives have been damaged by the stigma attached to the shade of your skin.
In grade 9 history class, I came across this very enlightening source of information, that lays the foundation for the skin shade battle of the fairest one. In history, a dark colour was always associated with the opposite of good, which is symbolised as white, and upon the discovery of the African continent, Europeans sought to conquer darkness. It was the beginning of skin lightening and it dates back to the 1800s and certain sources strongly suggest earlier origins.
This ideology is clearly still upheld in society and considered to be true, and the truth is: The answer to my first question is “because it’s ugly.” If this is secretly your answer or you may not even realise this, you are subject to imprisonment of the mind. Coupled with this being the beginning of racism, it is also the beginning of Black and Indian people of darker shades suffering deep hurts of low self-esteem and genuine belief that their skin colour is a curse. Not only is there cross racial discrimination, there is skin shade prejudice inflicted on each other.
“You’re so pretty for a dark-skinned girl!”
“She’s not so pretty for a yellow-bone.”
There is nothing wrong with having a preference, but I feel that it should not be subject to social pressures, motives should always be addressed. Beware of the damage lurking in your mind, because it is subliminal and gives light to some other psychological damage one might be suffering from because of history or even recent history, childhood. The skin colour complex is a deep psychological issue that has been festering in the minds of most of us all for centuries. It will take double the years to reverse the thought pattern and to bring back the truth about beauty and for people to believe it with all their being:
“You do not have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body”* and because you have a body let your soul embrace the body that it dwells in. Nobody is a curse, nobody is an accident or mistake. Be fair to yourself.
*CS Lewis Quote
Thato Choma | @timelessthato