February 28, 2021
to the Girls Room! Today not only marks the the launch of SKIN, but also the first ever edition of "her story" our new segment of TGR. I wanted to allow this platform to serve as a safe haven, suited for every woman. In todays society genuine girl circles are almost non existent, and I think it all comes down to insecurities. My goal is to change the narrative of what a true girls tribe should be, authentic, original, inclusive, and evolving.
In my efforts to start building such a community I wanted to start by collaborating with my counterparts to end Black History Month. I teamed up with beautiful women who were open to share their perspectives and experiences with colorism. I hope each story is a inspiration to each of you! I look forward to continuously building this platform to uplift women globally.
Colorism... within the world that we live in today, we all may think that colorism hardly exist or even believe that it’s a situation that’s not as serious. Personally, I’ve also have fallen guilty of believing those synopsis, however, there has always been some sort of thought in my mind when I realize that colorism still exists and sadly more often then what we may believe. Yes, everyone is entitled to their personal perspectives and preference, however, as individuals we should try not to belittle anyone to make them feel less than or not worthy due to the complexion of their skin. There are many times that individuals are overlooked, ignored, etc. despite the significance of their personal characteristics that displays morals, dignity, and quality. None of those characteristics matter to an individual whose more inclined towards an “image”; a visual display of what they may think “look good.” Often times there’s situations where darker complexion individuals may not have the same privilege as lighter complexion individuals and sadly this has been ongoing issue for many years and I’m sure will be a consistent issue of many years to come. Think about it... there are times when darker complexion individuals (mostly women) are not offered the same opportunities as the lighter complexion individual, simply because society has made an stigma that darker individuals are not as attractive as the lighter complexion individuals.
Sadly, this is the world we live in and have to adjust to the preference of others without feeling as if we’re not good enough. Does these encounters and ongoing situations cause doubt and insecurities? Absolutely! Most times were left alone picking up the shattered pieces of our heart and gathering all of our feelings together to keep pressing forward and also encouraging ourself along the way to realize that we’re more than enough and understanding that someone else’s preference doesn’t validate who we are as individuals! There are often times when I have to remind myself that I am not my skin, that my true beauty is deep within! Yes, it took many years for me to feel comfortable in my own skin and once I’ve got to that place in my life, I realized that no one or anything could make me feel unsure of who I am. Realizing that I’m more than the complexion of my skin, has allowed me to learn how to love myself in different aspects of my life. I’ve embraced the fact that my character truly defines who I am, even when I’m still a work in progress, also realizing that confidence comes in many different forms and not just the physical aspect! So I will encourage everyone to embrace who you are, accept the contributions of what defines you (externally and internally), and love who you are despite anyone else’s judgement.
We’ve managed to reach an era where skin is IN. There has been a new found trend with “clear skin”. As much as I would love to join the club, I do not and have not met the criteria for admission..at least not yet. What can I say? I am jealous and I envy the beautiful and blemish free skin that I see EACH day on my TL. I mean even the men have got in on the skincare trend. While I think it is a good thing, I cannot help but feel left out. It is almost impossible to not feel this way. Being black without clear skin almost feels like I’m not even black because of how it continues the feeds show on my TL. I almost feel like I am the only one in the black community without clear skin. Though I know I am not, it does not make me feel any less alienated. I champion myself for each time I walk outside without wearing makeup and endure a social life with skin that I have and in the same breath, I experience defeat everyday. I wake up to see I cannot join the club. It’s hard. It feels like I am excluded, because clear skin has become damn near cultural. There’s a love for black skin in general that has grown ever so beautifully and yet I just don’t feel like I’m a part of that. I hope and pray for it to change, and hopefully join my fellow black men and women in the clear skin trend, or lifestyle..either way, I WANT IN.
Marie A. Mence
What has been some of your experiences with colorism and how has it affected you up until this point in your life?
In the ballet world, I was one of the only black women in my classroom in the conservatoire in Paris. It led me to face some difficulties and aggressive comments about my figure or the way my hair would have volume or curl up. I was very much loved by my teachers who admired my work ethic and self discipline, but because I was black I would have to work harder to keep my place or to have a role. Because it was unconventional at the time for black women to be ballet dancers, they tried to direct me to a different career where black people would fit the best. I know colorism exists, but because of my lonely position I wasn't able to compare to other black women. The texture of my hair and skin color would just be "wrong", I wouldn't dare to put my hair into a afro style, I constantly kept my hair braided just to hide the volume; It would also be easier to do a bun for ballet class. Today things are different, I am apart of a company where there is different shade of black and we all love it! We are now able to focus on who we are as artists and not "how dark our skin tone is". It just doesn't make sense!
Would you say the color of your skin has hindered many opportunities afforded to you?
I would say that it was much harder to find a job in france considering that we had no black ballerina at the time. A company director told me at the end of my study that I should stop dancing and it just broke me so much that I stopped dancing for 1 year. It affected my mood, my confidence, and self esteem. I was obviously depressed by the fact that I could not find a job because of my skin color. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to leave france for New york and I found my way to heal and accept who I am and what I want to become.
If you could give advice to the 10 year old you, what would you say?
I would say to trust myself much more and to not wait for permission to be. I was afraid to be judged by others constantly, I would try to hide my hair, my butt, and my athletic legs because the women working with me were not built like that. It's hard to break the mold and accept fitting nowhere, but I would say to myself "be brave, change is coming".
What and who are you without your skin?
Without my skin I am an artist; someone who's looking to express myself through creativity and technicality trying to find my uniqueness in movement and looking forward to supporting other artists like me. I love my skin though it gives me this extra pep, this extra hope in my work and physicality!
Kimberly Charday xoxo