The Ugly, Dark Skin Black Girl Compromise

I’m pretty confident that we ALL have heard the highly ignorant phrase “she’s pretty – for a DARK SKIN girl” but what we haven’t investigated enough is what lingers on the OTHER side of that comment and where it’s ugly roots come from. The Black Community has been wrestling with our own dirty, ugly, little secret since slavery, when we were TAUGHT to rate and hate each other heavily dependent on each others skin colour: In order for us to accept dating the darker skinned sistas in our race, we would have to inherently agree to The Ugly, Dark Skin Black Girl Compromise which states that Dark-skin women CAN be dated – as long as you are willing to compromise your superficial tastes in physical attractiveness.

As you may or may not know, there is a new documentary that will be premiering in the Fall/Winter of 2011 called Dark Girls and here is the trailer:

For me, the most powerful and moving parts of this preview were how race affects the ideologies of young Black children, but what REALLY pissed me off, is that Documentaries like this, art exhibits like this, magazine articles and blogs like this all help to PUSH The Ugly, Dark Skin Black Girl Compromise as it relates to dating by continually [and possibly sub-consciously] canonizing less than attractive women as the natural spokeswomen for the Dark Girl cause when that just reinforces the BULLSH*T negative imagery and ideology that to accept DARK SKINNED women you must be overtly willing to accept a LESS ATTRACTIVE woman.

I remember in University I was having a discussion with my professor about Racial Bias in the Black community, and she held up two pictures to me, one of a Dark Skin girl and one of a “Light-Skin” girl, and told me to choose which one I found more attractive. I choose the Light-Skin girl. She then proceeded to attempt to “school” me on my internal self-hatred and point out that, I too, was a victim of racial bias against my own people. But I quickly stopped her mid-sentence, took the pictures from her and asked her “why did you use THESE EXACT pictures?” You wanna see what she used [and I’m NOT making this up]:

Light Skin Girl [Vanessa Williams]


Dark Skin Girl [Whoopi Goldberg]

I’m NOT a particularly huge fan of the light-skin, long-hair look, but when questioned I would take Vanessa Williams over Whoopi 8 days of the week – but that doesn’t prove any preponderance towards self-hate or racial bias, because I think MOST people would agree Vanessa is more attractive. That’s like holding up a picture of Will Smith & Flavor Flav to a Black woman and then cussing her out and calling her self-hating because she chose Will.

But, when I asked her why she chose Whoopi as the dark-skin representative, and she essentially evaded my question by stating “the point is, it’s a Dark skin girl” which INFURIATED me, because even though she is well-intentioned, she is playing into the hands of The Ugly, Dark Skin Black Girl Compromise by neglecting to mention one VERY important fact: Their are STUNNING, GORGEOUS, BEAUTIFUL, & REMARKABLE Dark Skin Black women walking the Earth every-damn-day in LARGE-ASS numbers.

I wished my Prof. had chosen to ask me more questions instead of rushing to judgement and maybe she would have learned that I was dating a BEAUTIFUL dark skinned woman and I have ABSOLUTELY ZERO qualms with recognizing beauty at ANY shade of colour from Deep chocolate to Pale white. And as I watched that trailer I felt all those feelings coming back when I looked at some of the women they chose to talk about dating specifically. It’s a point that no one really wants to make for fear of being called an a*shole or worst, but were ALL of those women viable candidates to describe the vast inequities of “dating while dark” when [in my opinion] some of them don’t even represent women of AVERAGE attractiveness?

Do I believe that there are MANY Black men out there who treat Dark Skinned women unfairly? OF COURSE – I hear their BULLSH*T everyday in my own personal lives. Do I believe Dark Skinned women may suffer a more difficult time dating because of their shade of skin colour? OF COURSE – there are a multitude of Black women that can attest to that. Do I believe that we also should take male superficiality into account when we discuss some Dark Skinned sista’s problems with dating? YES WE SHOULD [and ask is her PARTICULAR problem 100% skin colour or 50% skin colour and 50% attractiveness?]. The best way to prove one’s anti-Dark Skin preferences is NOT by holding a picture of Precious next to Beyonce and saying “pick one!”. It’s finding a woman of equal beauty [in my opinion Kerry Washington] and holding it next to Beyonce and then asking ‘which one do you find more attractive?’ KERRY [In MY opinion].

The reason NONE of my boys can bring that anti-Dark Skin sh*t around me is because I can BEAT them at their own game because I have MANY examples of Dark Skin women who represent the apex of beauty PERIOD, from starlets to the girl working the cash register at Shoppers Drug Mart.

My whole point boils down to this: By ignoring superficial aesthetics we are doing ONE very stupid thing in our benevolent rush to defend Dark Skin girls – we are canonizing the less than attractive Dark Skin women as wholly representative of their struggle and then clamouring that Black men MUST stop being so close-minded and see the internal beauty of each of these women, which is a NOBLE endeavour, but is also simultaneously UNNECESSARY – because Dark Skinned women are some of the most BEAUTIFUL women walking the planet. Period.

Oh, and just incase you needed VISUAL evidence, here is a post I put up on this site over a year ago:

This Is Your Conscience

When Lincoln Anthony Blades is not writing for his controversial and critically acclaimed blog, he can be found contributing articles for Uptown Magazine. Lincoln wrote the hilarious and insightful book "You're Not A Victim, You're A Volunteer: How To Stop Letting Love Kick Your Ass". He is also a public speaker who has sat on panels all over North America and the Caribbean.