The upcoming documentary Dark Girls explores the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color that are experienced particularly by dark-skinned women, outside of and within African-American culture.
While the issue certainly isn’t brand new, this approach appears to be. Colorism traditionally arises in an adversarial fashion: Someone accuses someone else (a director, a magazine editor, perhaps all of Hollywood) of embracing unfair standards of beauty that exclude many black women.
But Dark Girls seems to take a different angle. Rather than vilifying the perpetrators of bias, the preview shows women being allowed to tell their own stories in a manner that sends an undeniable message about how nonsensical, painful and historically fraught our stubborn views of skin color and beauty can be.
Read some excerpts from the interviews in the film (produced by Bill Duke for Duke Media):
“I can remember being in the bathtub asking my mom to put bleach in the water so that my skin would be lighter and so that I could escape the feelings I had about not being as beautiful, as acceptable, as lovable.”
“She’s pretty for a dark-skinned girl … What is that supposed to mean?”
“They used to say, ‘You stayed in the oven too long.’ “
“It was so damaging … it made it seem like we weren’t wanted; that we were less than.”
“The racism that we have a people amongst ourselves is a direct backlash of slavery.”