UREMBO- For those who don’t understand this sacred language, urembo is actually a Kiswahili word that means ‘beauty’. So in this series, we shall be exploring what beauty means, the untrue or true standards of beauty that have been set by society, insecurities forged because of those standards, get to hear some stories, discover what religion says about beauty, basically outline anything and everything that relates to beauty. Hopefully at the end of this series, certain negative mentalities will be discarded from your minds, a seed of self-confidence will be planted in all your hearts, and you will all realize that beauty is more than what’s portrayed by the world.
According to oxford dictionary, beauty is;
- A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.
- A combination of qualities that pleases the intellect.
According to Collins’ dictionary, beauty is the state or quality of being beautiful and a beautiful person is described as someone who is very attractive to look at.
According to Cambridge dictionary, it is the quality of being pleasing, especially to look at.
Now, even after these definitions, I’m left having a few questions. How do you measure beauty? Is the standard of beauty universal? Who decides what is beautiful and what isn’t? What criteria does he/she use? What is the instrument used and what is the SI unit? People have the habit of saying things like ‘so and so is not beautiful’, ‘huyo dame amebeat kama beat box‘. For people to come to such a conclusion, I’m really just interested in knowing what marking scheme is used.
According to the definitions, it’s clear that skin color plays a role in determining who is said to be aesthetically pleasing, and consequently who ‘qualifies’ to be beautiful.
Skin color depends on many factors including reddening caused by inflammation, the hemoglobin level in the blood, and the darkening caused by increased deposition of the pigment melanin. Melanin is produced within the skin in cells called melanocytes and it is the main determinant of the skin color of darker-skinned humans. The amount of melanin varies from one person to another, despite being of the same race or even the same family. It depends on several factors such as, exposure to UV radiation, genetic makeup, size of melanocytes and disease conditions. (I can be a nerd. lol)
Everyone has a story when it comes to skin color and I’d love to hear yours. For now though, we have two sides of the coin, the singular story of one beautiful dark skin lady, Rita, and of one beautiful relatively light skin lady, myself.
I have honestly never understood the hype about light skins. I know, sounds funny coming from someone who is relatively on the lighter side, but for real, what’s the big deal? I am beautiful because I am beautiful, not because I’m light skin, yellow skin, green skin, purple skin. Yes, I absolutely love my skin color, it’s not my only beautiful feature, but it does add onto everything that’s beautiful about me. My problem with these light skin shenanigans comes with everything that’s attached to you having less melanin than others.
I hate when light skin ladies, and even men, behave like they are the only beautiful people on the planet, and put others down because they aren’t as light as they are, it’s just wrong on so many levels. But to be fair, I don’t entirely blame the ones who do this, because society has been pushing that agenda for a while, not only through the media, but also through conversations. Like have you ever heard people say, ‘She’s beautiful but it’s just because she’s light skin.’ What does that mean? That the only beautiful thing about her is her skin color? If something happened and she became darker, she’d be less beautiful? Which makes me wonder, what exactly do you look at so as to say someone is beautiful? Is it the skin color? Their physical features? Their intellect?
I hate that being light skin is somehow associated with being blonde and not having anything between your ears. I just don’t get it. Kindly, for anyone who is in love with the sciences, please explain to me with illustrations how a decrease in melanin leads to a corresponding decrease in brain cells. (7.5 marks).
Oh my goodness, and have I talked about the memes? I could go on and on about that, I could probably even make a whole blog post dedicated to light skin memes. They are so many. For real, just google ‘Memes about light skins’ and be amazed at how many there are. I won’t deny it, some are actually funny, but some are downright nasty and demeaning. They stop being jokes and become insults.
Being light skin does make you beautiful, so does being dark skin, and so does being somewhere in the middle, so what’s the hype about?
‘Hey, my name is Rita Kinuthia and I’m a beautiful dark skinned lady. I’ve never really had a problem with being dark skinned. However, I have a problem with people trying to cripple me from being myself, because of my skin color. People will always have something to say, and rightfully so, everyone has a right to have an opinion. However, that right should not be abused.
Over the years, I have heard a few things said about dark skinned people, discriminatory and abusive things. Some like being called burnt, dark as charcoal, being told that this or that would look bad on me because I’m dark. etc. As I child, these comments really put me down, and they made me insecure. I have no problem with people who are proud of being light skin, but once you use that to put down people of darker skin colors, we will have a problem.
Something else that I’ve noticed, is that some guys would rather date a light skin girl, why? because dark is not beautiful? Because beauty is determined by your skin color? I don’t get how someone would call my skin “ugly/unattractive”, who even gave them the right to declare that something is or isn’t beautiful? When I look at my skin, I see a beautiful gift that will never be a blemish whatsoever, because black is beauty.
The society has crippled darker girls for such a long time, resulting to some feeling the need ‘kutoa tint’ (bleach). I personally wouldn’t do it, but I can’t condemn people for it because that’s a personal choice. However, choices have consequences and that’s what people fail to remember. Can you imagine having skin problems for the rest of your life? Problems that didn’t exist before? I usually imagine it’s like leprosy.
People are so defined by what others view as beauty, and they take it as the gospel truth. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to you. It all comes down to knowing yourself, loving yourself for who you are and to value yourself as much as you want others to value you. You are golden!”
Everyone has an opinion and a preference, and that’s perfect, it makes life more interesting. When it comes to skin color, it doesn’t make you horrible for liking certain types of women or men partly because of the color of their skin. That’s what appeals to you and that’s fine. What is appealing to you may not be appealing to someone else. But that doesn’t mean that because someone is not your preference of skin color, that they aren’t beautiful. The worst thing you could do is put down another person because of something as biological as skin color.
You are beautiful in whatever shade you come in, black, white, yellow, green, blue. You are beautiful and nothing anyone says can make you feel beautiful if you don’t believe it yourself. Kindly, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s one specific universally accepted skin color that defines beauty. So hunny, YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.
Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye.
How has society shaped the concept of beauty when it comes to skin color? Any stories or additions you would like to share? Comment below.
Let’s hang out throughout the week through my social media handles.
Credits: @nyamamamake for the venue. And @rainoftenza for the beautiful photos. (Check my Instagram for their handles).
That’s it for today. Till next time. xx
Always be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.
Grow and Glow. xx