Is It Easier for Light Skin Women to Build Confidence?


On the heels of OWN’s premiere of the documentary Dark Girls, it is safe to say that it has become a hot topic for a variety of reasons and has left many unanswered questions to be answered about the colorism that still effects many daily.

While I heard others share that they felt the documentary missed the voices of confident dark skin girls and women. I agree. Where were the confident dark skin women that I interact with daily? Most of the dark skin women that I know are just as cute and confident as the light skin women I know including myself.

Light skin and dark skin girls alike deal with issues of self-esteem and confidence just like the next woman. They are no different. But, the question that pops into my mind based on this exclusion of confident dark girls with positive self-images about themselves is: is it easier for light skin women to build confidence?

It is no secret that our society boosts the “lighter the better and the straighter the hair the better.” It is evident from the film that this does take a toll on dark girls and women. However, it also takes a toll on light skin women as well contrary to popular belief. I can only speak from my own experience as a light skin woman, but there is much to be noted that light skin girls don’t always have it as easy sailing as folks think. Anyway, you try to shape it light skin girls are still black girls! Black, Latino, and Indian, etc girls all suffer from similar stigmas and stereotypes that seek to hold them back.

With this being said, is it easier for light skin women to build confidence? On the surface one could argue “yes,” however if one digs deep it is easy to recognize that regardless of which side you were blessed on you will still have to fight the good fight like everyone else has both a woman and colored girl.

“Being alive and being a woman is all I got, but being colored is a metaphysical dilemma I haven’t conquered yet.” Tangie, For Colored Girls

To be woman and to be colored are too things every girl and woman who possesses both must learn to love, embrace, and work in a society that doesn’t always favor this. It is no easier for one then it is the other, and if we come together and uplift one another and take it upon ourselves to make images highly visible and societal practices that suggest that beauty and brilliance lives within light, brown, and dark girls then we should be able to help one another overcome this plague of colorism that is infused in our culture and nation as a whole.

f48c5fb9d9e68047911e48272df97cbdAll black is beautiful in my book!

I firmly believe that a woman’s perception of herself begins in the home when she is a child. A girl’s family is her first teacher. We have to start asking ourselves what ideals and images are we feeding our baby girls. Are we telling them ‘black is beautiful’ and teaching them their cultural heritage and history? Or are we feeding them our tainted views on colorism and making them feel less than for being darker or lighter, kinkier or curlier then you envisioned? We have to start taking responsibility early or else our girls will not know how to handle the world of media, men, and people who will seek to tell them otherwise. Our girls need a solid foundation to stand on. Confidence is always built on a foundation. Color confidence is no different. Point blank. Period.

REGAL RESOURCE: Documentary to See: Shadeism

This documentary short is an introduction to the issue of shadeism, the discrimination that exists between the lighter-skinned and darker-skinned members of the same community. This documentary short looks specifically at how it affects young womyn within the African, Caribbean, and South Asian diasporas. Through the eyes and words of 5 young women and 1 little girl – all females of color – the film takes us into the thoughts and experiences of each.

I want to hear from you:

  • Do you think it’s easier for light girls to gain confidence?
  • How will you help end colorism within your family, community, or nation?
  • What did you think of Dark Girls?
  • What has been your experience with colorism?



  1. In my opinion, it depends on the girl and her environment. There is a common misconception that all light-skinned girls are uplifted while darker girls are mistreated. I will say that as a very light-skinned woman of mixed race (so light that people often think I’m not black at all), I grew up in an environment where verbal/emotional abuse was constant and I developed low self-esteem as a result. I would say that for *some* light-skinned girls it might be easier if they grow up in a loving environment surrounded by people who care about them, constantly affirming them. But for others (like me) it is more difficult. I know that some darker women feel left out by the media and we often hear their side of the story, but we rarely hear about the light-skinned girls who are also struggling with their image in society….their voices should be heard, too.

    To answer the second question, I try to be mindful of my own attitude and the feelings of others. I call people out (nicely) when I hear them making derogatory comments about a person’s skin or hair. I also try to say kind words to others. I’m proud of my younger cousin because she recently did “The Big Chop” and went natural. My family has been saying unkind things about her kinky hair, but she isn’t letting their words bother her. I also try to share with others the importance of seeing beauty in diversity and accepting people for who they are, instead of only caring about appearances. And I definitely want to emphasize how wrong it is for adults to treat children differently because of how they look, whether it is because they are light or dark. We need to overcome the ignorance of racism and stop passing it down to future generations.

    I believe “Dark Girls” is a thought-provoking documentary. It might be helpful to dark-skinned girls/women who can identify with that, as well to educate people outside of the Black community (and other minorities) who are unaware of this issue.

    My personal experiences with colorism have been very painful, but I’ve never been able to share my feelings because of the perception that light-skinned people always have it better. I have experienced racism from white people and Latinos, but it hurts more coming from Black people. My stepfather abused me for years because he is a dark-skinned man and he felt that my life was too easy so he decided to make my life miserable. Looking at me, it was obvious that I wasn’t his daughter, so maybe he was embarrassed by that as well. My cousins (all of whom are darker) bullied me relentlessly for years…so did my other relatives. My mother was pulled out of her car and beaten by a bunch of dark-skinned women simply for being light with long hair. I was ostracized in school because of my oddly white appearance and eccentric ways. When I started dating in high school, my boyfriend’s family seemed nice at first, but after a while they made it clear that they had an issue with me being mixed and so light-skinned. His mother and aunts seemed to have the biggest problem with it. I was constantly subjected to comments about how “ugly” my pale skin was and called fat, nappy-headed, etc…it was horrible. I would never say those things to anyone but people felt it was OK to tear me down because I was light-skinned. I feel bad for darker women who have experienced colorism/racism, but I also wish people would listen to us light-skinned girls who have been told that we’re ugly, too. That same boyfriend, BTW, turned out to be abusive.

    He devalued me constantly, cheated on me, called me names, allowed his family and friends to disrespect me. And if that weren’t enough, he is now with a Latina who is about the same color I am but the difference is that she has “white girl” hair…so it goes to show that some Black men use light-skinned girls and throw them away because they want to be with something even closer to white.

  2. Wow, sucks you had to got through this. I’m a light skinned woman. My mother is black and my dad is latino. Growing up, I battled with low self esteem and confidence, it was extremely difficult for me to identify myself as a black woman, since all my life, since the age of 5….I’ve been bullied, picked on, humiliated, and rejected for looking the way I look. I remember one time, this black girl dug her nails in my skin to remove me from sitting at a table of black girls, since i wasn’t black…..but I’m thinking…yes I am. People treated me like a science experiment. I wanted to be darker, I wanted nappy hair, I wanted to look like a black person, not mixed. Today, I am proud of who I am and what I look like. I went through alot, but I understand that I didn’t make myself and we have a long way to go. I have never experienced racism or issues like that from latinos or white people, only blacks. I have silky, black hair, what people consider white girl or good hair, I have light skin, but there are some black features on my face, such as my nose….its not a keen, white nose and I remember my grandmother used to take her fingers and try to slim my nose down and stop it from spreading any wider. My grandmother is black, but she has a keen, very narrow nose, like Lena Horne. Anyways, the black race is messed up psychologically. We need to address this.