When I was growing up I fawned over grey and blue eyes. To this day I often catch myself feeling envious when I make contact with someone who has colored eyes. There’s something so extraordinary and majestic about colored eyes. There has to be right? Because every poem I’ve read, every song I’ve heard romanticizes them. Blue eyes are as pure and precious as the ocean. Grey eyes are fogged up winter nights. Green eyes are magical, piercing emerald, nature’s best. Hazel eyes are honeydew, sweet, and inviting. And brown eyes? Brown eyes are dirt.
I spent most of my life disliking a feature that I had absolutely no control over. I used to whine to my mother that she cursed me with the same dull eyes she has, and praise my father’s light brown eyes. Anything was better than dark brown.
This insecurity extended itself from light-colored eyes to light skin. It was a struggle to accept my non-European centered features. From a young age, I was introduced to lightening creams, and body washes. My tan skin lacked beauty. Fair & Lovely – “In the course of a week you too can obtain a cleaner and more beautiful face”. I tried, but I couldn’t wash the brown off of me.
I even used to knowingly buy foundations that were a shade or two too light. The worst part is, I don’t think I came to terms with my skin or eyes because I eventually realized how society was trying to whitewash me; No, I think I came to accept it when tan skin became a trend.
There is this poem that I wanted to share that went viral on Twitter. It explores the topic of cultural appropriation and exploitation of brown culture. It is one of my favorites.
“When they want the thick hair, but not the thick eyebrows
when they want the forehead jewel, but not the “dothead”
when they want the tan skin, but not the darkest of the night
when they want the third eye, but not the perspective
when they want the bangles, but not the troubles
when they want the flavor, but not the smell
when they want to practice, but not understand
when they want the trend, but not the history
when they want the benefits, but not the disadvantages
when they want the light, but not the heat
when they want the culture, but not you”