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  • Yaicha Ocampo

Dark Girls: Beauty not only skin deep

The Department of Politics and Women’s and Gender Studies program hosted the film "Dark Girls" last Thursday, Sept. 20 in the Lib Jackson Student Union theatre.

The film “explores the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within a segment of cultures that span from America to the most remote corners of the globe.”

Classism and racism are sets of prejudice against people for belonging to certain social communities.

The documentary emphasizes an intersectional approach to evaluating the obstacles facing women of color. An intersectional approach takes into consideration all of one’s identities, such as race, gender and class, in order to evaluate the way one experiences oppression and discrimination in this “white supremacist framework.”

Interviews were the primary method used to illustrate the hardships of women of color. A consistent issue that was mentioned was the lack of unity within the black community; for example, African-American men being encouraged to date light-skinned girls because they were seen as more beautiful.

If you do not believe that the whiter one's skin is, the more beautiful they are by societal standards, put “beautiful women” into any search engine. There is a high guarantee the first few pages will be of porcelain, fair or light-skinned women with long hair.

There was a powerful anecdote given by a young woman exemplifying this concept.

Her mother was bragging about her to a friend while the three were riding in a car together.

“She said, ‘My daughter is beautiful. She’s got great eyelashes, she’s got the cheekbones, she’s got great lips,’” the woman says. “She then adds, ‘Could you imagine if she had any lightness in her skin at all? She’d be gorgeous.’”

Beliefs like these are detrimental to one’s self-esteem. It is not uncommon; even outside the black community, it is common for one person to maliciously degrade others in order to make themselves feel better.

Because of this reason, skin-lightening cream is one of the most in-demand cosmetic. Instead, we should be emphasizing self-love.

It is also important to remember that “loving yourself isn’t racism—it's race pride.” Race pride is embracing one’s culture, heritage and social community.

The documentary ends with a call to action – reminding viewers that “change starts with consciousness.” It is important for one to be cognizant of their beliefs and why they have those beliefs.

Franklin Ellis, the assistant director of Multicultural Student Services, states that “We need to fix the way society views black women.”

It is not the responsibility of each social community to fix the oppression they face. Each individual has a moral obligation to help one another and to better the world, or at least be a decent human being.

(Credit: Pretty Clever Films)

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