Born as a natural morena, there’s no greater joy than seeing the color of your skin finally being celebrated and appreciated. Nowadays, most celebrities and influencers dominating the beauty industry are morenas like Kathryn Bernardo, Nadine Lustre, Gabbie Garcia, and more. However, there’s also no greater sadness than looking back on all those years of discriminating against your own skin.
Growing up, I never thought that there was anything wrong with my skin until I was told ‘I would have liked you if you weren’t so dark’. I got taken aback because I never thought a person’s skin was truly something other people consider in liking someone. This event made me look back and think that maybe deep down, I also considered my skin in loving myself. As I look back, I never realized these subtle feelings and inconveniences indicated a deeper struggle related to my skin.
Overuse of whitening products
Growing up, I used whitening products thinking that fair skin tones are the ‘normal’ skin tones and not because I felt ugly in tan. However, in my teenage years, that seemingly harmless notion that fair skin tones are ‘normal’ began making me feel inferior as a morena.
Before, I never felt discriminated against with how the entertainment industry is mostly composed of fair-skinned celebrities. I always thought it’s a matter of the industry’s preference until most commercials marketed 7-day skin whitening for morenas. This brand of marketing led me to believe that my skin was less than ideal. The whitening commercials filled me with thoughts that being morena was something I had to change.
Being an athlete didn’t help with building a healthier relationship with my skin, especially during high school. I thought those commercials were harmless until most of my batchmates in high school underwent their glow ups. Most of their glow ups involved a whiter skin and they began cowering away from the sun. Unlike them, I had no choice since I was an athlete. A simple skincare routine turned into an agonizing journey of discriminating against my own skin and viewing myself as ‘less’.
Straying away from bright-colored clothes
To be honest, my personal experiences impacted how I perceive my skin more often than the toxic beauty standards did. Before, I hardly cared about how certain colors don’t look good on morenas until other people made me feel conscious. My friend, who was our school’s student representative, was jokingly prompted by others to pick a prom theme that won’t match my skin tone. In response, she jokingly said ‘yellow?’
Although we’re friends, I’d be lying if I said this event didn’t affect how I view my skin. In fact, as I look back, I can recall many instances where I would stray away from bright-colored clothes. I steer away from it because I feel afraid, afraid that I would look ugly, or worse, darker. I steer away from yellows, pastels, and worse, green because I feel like it makes me look like a tree. Oftentimes when I ask my mother for advice, I would ask ‘am I too dark for this?’ instead of ‘do I look good?’
You can never look ‘clean’ enough
My mother often comforts me that morenas are ‘cleaner’ than fair-skinned and white people. She jokingly commented how fair-skinned people rarely shower because they think they’re clean. Her jokes aside, it feels nothing like that growing up. I don’t know if I’m the only one but as a morena, no matter how clean or well-dressed I am, I feel like I’m still dirtier next to a fair-skinned person. The labels of the world wherein dark skin is considered as dirty and white as clean makes it more difficult to feel different than what you already feel about your skin.
Over-romanticization of fair-skinned celebrities turned morenas
In the summer, celebrities take vacations and come back with tanned skin. You see people glamorizing these fair-skinned celebrities flaunting their newly tanned skin. These instances make me feel mixed emotions and think, does morena skin only look good on celebrities?
People only began seeing the beauty of morena or other deep tones when celebrities used it as their ‘new look’. Although it’s not the fault of celebrities but in reality, these standards and experiences scar you deeper than you think.
You begin to see yourself the same way the world does
It’s difficult to feel empowered in a world that seems to be built to pull you down. It’s easy to drown in your insecurities and begin to see yourself the same way the world does. In this world’s beauty standards, it’s easy to start viewing yourself as less—less beautiful, less graceful, and less valuable. Unconsciously, you steer away from things that make you ‘you’.