My earliest memory of anything to do with how others perceived me was when playing kiss/chase in school. I remember my friends giggling at every kiss on their cheek while I looked on and hoped for the same.
It seems like such a trivial thing, especially to a child. But it’s a memory that stuck with me, this thought of being second best. Or even less. It’s one thing to recognize your own beauty and worth, but we’re only human. And while I don’t need to be validated by someone else’s words to know my worth, I think of that younger version of me who resigned to knowing she would always be picked last. If she was even picked at all.
Fast forward to an older version of me, who was much more sure of herself. I remember sitting in a lecture hall when we were told of a study where black women were deemed the least attractive of all the races.
It was the only sound in a lecture hall of nearly 70 people. I can’t explain what was going through my mind when I laughed, but maybe it was disbelief at such a backward way of thinking. A 21-year-old version of me could laugh because I knew I was more than someone’s opinion of me, but I also knew the 15-year-old version of me would have been devastated because she would not understand for a long time just how beautiful she was.
How the sun would catch the brown of her skin and turn her into a goddess, and how the brown of her eyes would shift to a gold only she was entrusted to keep. Those brown eyes could be described as fierce gold flames yet still make you feel safe.
I may not be everyone’s first choice, and that’s fine, but I will always be mine.
Because what others might call ugly and less desirable, I call familiar. For I hold the earth in my skin, various shades of autumn, the gold, mahogany—the shimmer of me.
I can’t be simplified as one color. I can’t be considered as something so ordinary, but rather otherworldly. To think I walk the earth dressed as one of its own, an embodiment of something beyond the untrained eyes can view; it has to be seen up close for you to notice the magic.
To every brown girl, young and old—this is for you. While others might not see the magic within your skin, I do.
And I only hope one day you see it too.