As a brown-skinned girl, my summers were once filled with self deprivation. I avoided going swimming or out to an amusement park because of worry I would get darker.
Growing up, kids would tell me my skin color resembled dirt, or burnt toast. I used to come home from school crying and run straight to the bathroom to try and scrub the brown off.
Then my world was flipped upside down when I learned about color-ism — the discrimination against people with dark skin that often even comes from those of the same ethnic group.
I immediately took all this new knowledge to my best friend; my mom. We sat in our PJ’s on her bed and I searched “Dark Girls,” a documentary on Netflix. We watched as sociologists explained how the very statements my mom would tell me like, “Stay out of the sun” seriously impact young girls’ self esteem.
Then, one of us — it might have been me or her, I can’t remember — started crying. She told me she was sorry.
Looking back on it, summers have totally changed for me. All my closest friends know that I’ll jump at the chance to go to the beach, without the pestering fear, “Am I getting darker?”