In the African American culture skin color plays a huge role into the concept of beauty. Lighter skin is often preferred over darker skin. Many people look at light skin as being “prettier” or “better” than being brown or dark skinned. In our current generation, a lot of people view dating a “lightskinned girl” as “poppin’ or more exclusive than a brown skinned chick. Currently in the black culture, there’s even a saying about people “acting light skinned” meaning to acting boojie – in essence acting like you’re better than others.

Growing up, my skin color never used to bother me. I thought I was beautiful and felt blessed to look the way I did. But as I got older and into my last few years of college I became best friends with a girl that was light skinned. We did everything together, went everywhere together and even got an apartment together. This is when I finally experienced and felt the extreme difference in treatment between being brown skinned vs. being light skinned. Sometimes when we would go places together and she would get treated one way by guys and I would get treated lesser. At times the mistreatment hurt so badly that I used to wish that I was a little bit lighter just so that I would be treated better.

When I was younger I used to feel very uncomfortable about my height. By the eighth grade I was already 5’9. In college at times I would get the jokes from guys, being called “Giraffe” or greeted with “Hey 6’9” or “Aye girl, you still 7 foot 10?”. In turn, I didn’t feel comfortable going to clubs or parties because I felt awkward or that I would stand out for being “too tall.”

The comments about my height used to affect me so much that I just wouldn’t go out to parties, clubs or lounges at all.  On the rare occasion that I did go due to a close friends birthday party or important event, I would wear flats instead of wearing nice heels that would compliment my dress. I would feel sad about not being able to wear heels without getting the rude comments. I always felt pretty awkward.

Even today I went casually into a gas station for some morning coffee, feeling very chipper and excited to start my day. A woman working in the store asked me my height, I told her “5’10 1/2.” She said “You look like your about 6’1.” I smiled and said “Yeah, its the heels on these boots I’m wearing. They always make me look a few inches taller.” She replied, “Yeah thats the problem, the boots make you even taller.” I smiled and told her that “I hope she has a great day,” but inside my mind I was wondering why she said “that’s the problem.” I don’t find any problem with my height. Today I stand at 5 foot 10.5 inches tall and I’m proud of it. Thankfully I’ve grown into the strong confident woman that I am today, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

My advice to anyone going through the same struggles I used to go through is; Embrace everything that you are! You are the ONLY YOU in this universe and that is your power! Don’t let this superficial society that we live in have you regretting and wanting to change the way God made you to be. There are so many people out there that are short and wish they were taller. I love my height. Being tall, you automatically stand out and that’s an amazing quality to have. So be confident and walk with your head held high. Learn to love yourself! Everyone has a purpose on this earth and it just so happens that you got the GIFT of being taller, or darker or whatever your personal circumstance is. It’s up to you to CHOSE to look at your situation in a positive way rather than sulk and look at it as a negative. Use what you were given to your advantage and fulfill your purpose in life. Living your life in hiding or in shame is a painful way of life. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Over time, I realized that sometimes guys are just as shy as you are, they may even like you and not know what to say. I learned that sometimes guys would exaggerate my height because they wanted to come over to talk to me and didn’t know what to say. Unfortunately, some people just can’t think of any positive conversation starters than saying something awkward, rude or stating the obvious fact; that I’m tall. Forgive them anyway.

Never allow how anyone else views you make you begin to view yourself negatively. Whether some people think one color is better than the other, doesn’t mean that it is true. It’s your in own mind that your ALLOWING what others may think of you to convince yourself that what they think is better, is true. But that’s not reality; being shorter or lighter is not necessarily better! We all may look different but we all bleed red. We all need oxygen to live, food, water and shelter. We are all human! Never let anyone’s amount of fame or beauty make you think that anyone is better than you! You are great just the way you are! Embrace yourself, you do deserve to live life happily!

Ashai //

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