Today is #BlackOutDay on Twitter -- a day to celebrate black beauty in all its complexity. Celebrities like Jackee Harry participated in the hashtag, and plenty of #BlackGirlMagic (and #BlackBoyMagic, we must not forget the boys!) was everywhere.
Born out of the necessity to represent blackness in its numerous shades, people have been posting their beautiful selfies on social media all day using the hashtag. It might seem frivolous, but every beautiful selfie is actively combatting colorism, negative stereotypes and self-hatred.
Personally, I was of the many black kids who grew up unconsciously prizing fairer skin, and idealized a white standard of beauty. To me, Mary-Kate and Ashley symbolized perfection, not Somali girls like myself. My poor self-image was fueled in part by my interest in my obsession with the Olsen twins, and it wasn't until I started watching shows like Tia and Tamera and Moesha that I started to have a healthier sense of self. These women looked more like me, and were regarded as pretty, desirable, and successful.
To be represented means to be affirmed. Maybe if my shade had been better represented to me as as little girl, it wouldn't have felt so alien. It's that alienness that exasperates colorism, I think.
My personal standard of beauty has changed to be more accepting of myself, there are so many more hearts and minds that need to be opened up to the possibility that they, too, are beautiful.
Black is beautiful.
Here's Amandla Stenberg answering questions about black hair and more for young girls in a recent video for Rookie Mag, which feels all the more powerful to watch today.