Annika has been saying things this past year about her skin. Negative things. Mostly she says she wishes she was white and had “hair that falls down” (straight hair).
Every time, it pains me. I grew up wishing I was taller; had better hair; or bigger/smaller boobs (depending on my phase of life), etc. etc. But disliking the color of my skin never entered into the picture. You can change your hair color and texture (temporarily), lose weight, and adjust clothing to make yourself bigger or smaller, so when you’re young and experimenting with your looks, one can achieve temporary perfection occasionally (very temporary). I’ve tried lots of different looks over the years.
But you can’t change your skin color. No matter what Michael Jackson tried to convince us that was true, it just isn’t. The only thing you can do is learn to love it.
I have no idea how to teach Annika to love her skin color other than to love it and hope she mimics me. So, what I’ve been doing is inserting comments about beautiful brown skin. Showing her images of beautiful brown people and pointing them out when we see them in real life. Talking about beautiful brown skin.
I’ve never really mentioned my own skin much, except in comparison to hers. But the other day, I was putting on sun block and Annika asked me why I was putting it on. Without thinking, I said something like, “Well, I really don’t want my skin to get tanned.”
“Why mama? Don’t you want to have brown skin?”
Whoa. That stopped me in my tracks. I suddenly had this realization that while I was telling her all the time how pretty brown skin is, I rarely mentioned mine on its own. And I had never explained that while I think brown skin is pretty, I wasn’t necessarily wishing for my own (brown skin).
So I said to her, “I think brown skin is beautiful. But I’m not brown. I’m white. And I think I look pretty with white skin. We’re all beautiful the way we’re born.”
She seemed to like that and went about her business of watching one of her current favorite television shows, “My Big Big Friend.”
I couldn’t believe it. Segue to my recent post on brown skinned role models on cartoons for kids. Staring me right in the face was Lily, a beautiful black child with glasses and a bossy attitude.
I’m not crazy about her personality, but overall the show is cute and the kids are nice to each other. So I’ll take it.
Add another to my list of brown skinned girls in cartoons.