Black is ugly

I was born with the wrong skin colour, I would think to myself.

When I was little, I would spend minutes – hours – staring at my skin trying to understand why I’m black; this strange unnatural colour. I didn’t understand how God could have made such a tragic mistake, how He could let His manufacturing angels clothe a white girl in a black frock, and a very black one indeed. They couldn’t even make me fair-skinned! They really messed up.

When I had my many engrossing daydreams, I never saw myself as black. I was always Mediterranean white with gloriously straight blonde hair but still with my dark brown eyes. And then, when I noticed that my imaginary self was not me, I would try my best, I willed myself to change her into a very dark black girl with stubborn woolly hair; but then the daydream would not be the same anymore. It’s ruined and I’m back to the real world. It doesn’t matter what I was dreaming about. As soon as I became aware that my head had painted a picture of a white me (it did go unnoticed most of the time), that would be the end of it.

“My dear don’t bleach”, I was constantly told by people who obviously ‘toned’ their skin to remove ‘dark blemishes’ and had no intention of stopping. I never knew if it was sincerity or sarcasm. “Duduyemi, black beauty”, my friends and relatives would call out in jest as they stare at my blackness. Many of them knew I hated it, but that made the jest a lot sweeter. However, even in the midst of a growing inferiority complex, I would still thank heavens that I’m not like those blacker than black Sudanese people I saw on cable. They reach the ultimate level of blackness.

At a very young age, I was made to understand how the world works: white chocolate is supreme, milk chocolate is satisfactorily delicious, and dark chocolate is bitter and uninviting. I also realised that racism isn’t solely an oyinbo issue but that we ‘blacks’ – well, Nigerians – discriminate against ourselves. This has nothing to do with tribes or ethnic groups. Wherever you’re from, no matter your ancestry, the lighter the better. Watching TV and seeing that the few black people on the screen were mostly Beyonce fair and more successful than the Kelly Rowland darker ones didn’t help at all, especially since I am way blacker than Kelly.

Then there are pictures; I just never show up in them. All you see is a row of large teeth surrounded by smiling white or fair-skinned people – even with flash. I hated – and still hate – having to deal with the embarrassed smile of friends in the UK telling me that I am not showing.

With these observations, I came to the conclusion that black is indeed ugly, unwanted and embarrassing.

[PS: Older me couldn’t care less about skin. However, I still don’t like taking loads of photos but not because of colour]


A similar post written by a guest blogger: I Am Not A Colour



  1. Moji, You nailed it. I guess we all have to deal with our “Colour” whatever the shade. You are not just brainy, you’re have the beauty in and out to go with it. Muaaah

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to deal with this problem as well. I thought my dark skin was ugly when I was younger. It didn’t help that I grew up around a majority of white people. I was the one that was “not normal” per say. One day, my mom stood me in front of the mirror and asked me what I saw. I told her all of these nasty things about myself. She told me she saw all of these wonderful things about my skin and my personality. Since then, I’ve been just fine.

    It’s amazing what characteristics we assign our skin color. Especially because we are all beautifully and wonderfully made in His image.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, I wish someone had spoken to me the way your mum did. I guess I stopped feeling bad in university where everyone is proud to be whatever they are or want to be.

      Yeah it is amazing how much weight we put on skin colour. As I sorta said in the post, what really surprised me as a child was that my colour was being judged by people of the same race as me. And that still confuses me even today.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers where he described the advantages mulatto Jamaicans had over the darker Jamaicans back in the 17th/18th century. It made me realise light-skinned folks get preferential treatment alll over the world and they love it. So why then do these same folks complain about racism when it doesnt favour them?


    1. Relative struggles I suppose. Based on their life experiences what one person thinks is fair, another would think it unjust.
      Plus I think light-skinned people dont notice the preferential treatment, just like a white person may not notice racism against blacks.
      I dont know if I’m making sense. I’m a bit sleepy lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol you are. I don’t think they do so when tables turn against them, in the presence of whites, they cry and protest which is kinda funny. Same happened to Malcolm Gladwell’s mum when she moved to England & met his father. It was then she realised that she had been advantaged all along in Jamaica.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Love it. I wasn’t necessarily dark when I was growing up but I was surrounded by family friends and relatives who made such a big deal over the fact that I was fair skinned. Thinking back on it, it’s really sad. My sister was called dark beauty cause she was very dark skinned but then they’d praise me for skin I didn’t choose. They didn’t like it when I played in the sun and all that jazz.


  5. Story of my life. I can relate to so many. My friends always joke all I need do in the dark not to be seen is to stripe naked. Sometimes in pictures, my teeth is the I was there symbol.
    Anyway, I never hated my skin color (thanks to having older siblings way darker than I am )
    I loved it and always joked about it (still do) By blackness makes me outstanding,you just can’t help but notice me when I step in a room (especially if it’s full of lightskinned people). At the end of the day, skin color doesn’t define self worth.

    Liked by 1 person

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