BY ARCHI KAMATH (staff writer)
As the sun exposed its brilliant light to lime-green grass enveloped by soft-linen daisies, it seemed like the perfect afternoon for a trip to the playground.
I jumped on a swing in my biker shorts, tied up my hair, and decided it was time to conquer the sky. Pushing with all my might, I tried to go as high as I could. The wind blew my hair into my face—an attempt of retaliation—but I was far too strong for the wind.
While I pursued no-nonsense playground activities, a tall girl with bleach-blonde hair caught my eye. She was older than me, with long, silky hair that began to shine in the sunlight. Suddenly it didn’t seem like the perfect afternoon for playing. Her light blue eyes were so pretty and her pearl skin made her look like a real-life Disney princess.
The swing came to a halt. I paused, staring at my tan skin and black hair. Without saying a word, I ran to the foot of a sycamore tree, dropped myself onto the ground and sat arms folded, head down as tears began to roll down my face. I was ugly. My skin was brown; it wasn’t white or pale or anything considered pretty. My eyes were dark and common; they didn’t reveal expressions like that of the oceans. And my hair- my hair was black, plain, and boring; it did not shimmer in the sunlight or have tints. At that moment, I began noticing the differences between myself and the typical European beauty standard. In regard, I was not pretty—and I most certainly did not feel like it.
After years of criticizing myself for something I should’ve embraced, I find myself asking the question many of us ask when we retire our insecurities: why was I so ashamed? Why was I so embarrassed of my brown skin color? Wasn’t this the same caramel skin that connected me to my parents, relatives, and ancestors? Why was I upset with my dark eyes? Weren’t these the eyes of curiosity, compassion, and love? The same eyes that were as deep as the vast universe? And finally, why was I so afraid of my long black hair? Wasn’t this the hair that was thick as a walnut tree, as long as our history, and as exquisite as the very soil that makes up our planet?
Now, when I describe my skin tone, I don’t call it brown. I say it’s caramel: sweet, unconfined, and golden.