February 03, 2020 Being Anastazia 0 Comments

1966 magazine

I took a walk by the beach with some friends one day, after being away from the country for long, that is the first thing I wanted to do... enjoy the amazing blue Tanzanian ocean while sipping a good glass of wine and chit-chatting with my friends. While we were chatting I started noticing things that perhaps I never saw or noticed before. All my friends were wearing a pair of shorts and swim bras and none could actually get into a full bathing suit or a full swimming costume and just be comfortable. I noticed I was the only one doing that actually and so I thought perhaps they would change before diving in for a swim but I stood corrected. 
I ignored this but a couple of minutes later I noticed another group of girls walking in the hotel we were at and the same thing was going on with them so I decided to ask my friends, why they were not changing into swimsuits and their answers shook me or rather, made me sad about how we perceive women especially darker-skinned women.

Stacy, one of my friends called me, “I don’t want to be shamed and posted on Instagram, I already have a black ass” at the moment I laughed but something inside me wouldn't let it go,  so I said I am just as dark but before I could finish she said “yes but you do fashion and well you are used to this, I am not” ( not that fashion makes people walking around in bikinis) I let it go, but a day later I started asking some other people around about this and I noticed at least 80% of Tanzanian women are not comfortable in their own skin and at least 60% are darker-skinned women.

I then noticed wow! Does our society really care about things that don't matter that much? I noticed all these women were victims of verbal abuse, I noticed most of these women have been told one too many times that having a lighter skin makes you prettier and so either they cave into using bleaching and whitening skin cosmetics or they don't and they stick around covering their bodies because they feel lesser. I noticed that I too had the same mentality before stepping outside my comfort zone and you would never find me in a bathing suit without a piece of “mtandio” around my waist to not alert people about how dark-skinned I really am or so I thought. I stopped though, I don’t really care anymore because I think every skin is beautiful and people that claim otherwise are just sad people with nothing better to do.

What alarmed me was the number of light-skinned women making the same analysis over darker-skinned women and I noticed actually this wasn’t only a Tanzanian thing. This is an African thing, even though most places do not actively practice this, but it starts as far back as thinking white people are better than Africans and when the painful parts of slavery and colonialism was over we trimmed it down to light skin people are better or more good looking than darker skin people but the real question is, whose fault is it? And why do we continue to let this happen?

Does it really matter? I think it's about time we stop playing this light over dark game and give each other respect and love as it should be. It may not seem like it and it may not seem like a top of the list problem but the truth is, darker skin women suffer from inferiority complexes that are put there with verbal abuse even if it’s as small as a joke, you never know how someone else takes it so I think it all starts from us! It all starts from telling ourselves we are enough and anyone else’s analysis does not matter, it starts with us teaching our children that we all look the same and skin complexion is really nothing. It all starts with breaking down old African traditions, lighter-skinned women are more expensive hence higher bride prices (in my opinion let’s just stop looking at it as a bride price) it should start with you, practice being comfortable in your own skin, practice doing what you want, if that involves you swimming in a bathing suit then so be it!

Let me know what you think about this, are you a victim or do you know someone that is a victim of this insecurity? As small as it may sound this may lead to serious depression.
What do you think should be done to overcome this issue and how we look at it?