Colorism Harms How We See Ourselves

Briana Marcial Castillo, Opinion Editor


Has anyone ever questioned how you could possibly be the race or nationality you are due to how your skin was “so white?” If so, that’s colorism.

Colorism is defined as prejudice or discrimination against individuals based on their skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group. How is it that after so many years of fighting for equality, people of color themselves look down on people of their own race for being born with darker skin?

I hate it when someone questions the ethnicity of another person based on his or her skin color’s shade. A person can be lighter or darker than what we stereotypically think and still be considered Latino, African American, Asian and any other combinations of races and nationalities, its incredibly ignorant to think otherwise.

My father’s cousin was born with fair skin, freckles and green eyes but that doesn’t mean she’s not Mexican or that’s she’s not apart of our family. We don’t choose our genetics so it’s absolutely absurd to be questioned on our race just because we don’t fit society’s stereotype.

Historically, in countries all over the world, people could agree that you were considered to be more beautiful if you were fairer. The beauty standards left over from our ancestors are largely responsible for the self-consciousness we have over our skin color. Asian countries especially focus on having very fair skin. This beauty standard is still being followed to this day in countries like China, Korea. Japan, and the Philippines, greatly expanding the demand of the Asian beauty industry.

It breaks my heart when I hear some of the stories my friends tell me about their mothers lathering them in sunscreen so they aren’t darkened by the sun or when I watch YouTube videos of women telling their experiences about being given whitening cream as young girls only to break out in rashes or feel like their skin is burning. It’s not difficult to find these videos when you follow beauty vloggers who are racially diverse and have all different types of skin tones.

I personally have never had my family tell me I should cover myself from the sun in order to be prettier. When they remind me to wear sunscreen, it’s only to protect my skin from burning and peeling and in order to avoid future risk of skin cancer.

If you are a person who criticizes someone for their skin tone you are only perpetuating colorism and racism. Let people embrace their skin color and love themselves for who they are and live without caring how much melanin in their skin is socially acceptable. The pigment in your skin doesn’t have to be as white as snow to be considered beautiful. All skin colors are beautiful. Embrace yours.