Op-Ed

The Dark Skin I Am In: On Learning To Love My Melanin

How one woman went from feeling ashamed of her complexion to loving the the skin she was in. Thanks in no small part to Lupita Nyong'o.

The acclaimed actress Lupita Nyong'o, was not yet on billboards when they asked me to show my skin. I was 11, on the cusp of adolescence, when a bunch of my African school mates asked me to hold out my arm so they could compare me to the prettiest, Caucasian student in the girls' dorm. The difference in complexion was stark. The challenger, an English rose, had recently appeared in the British boarding school I attended in Molo, Kenya, quickly becoming the benchmark for attractiveness. Now her whiteness was being pitted against my blackness. As a tall, Nilotic girl, I couldn't compete with the blonde everyone adored.

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