I’m currently reading a book titled The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi W. Durrow. I found this author because I was searching for more black, female bloggers to read and stumbled upon her own. Ms. Durrow is mixed, or multiracial, with Black American and Danish. When I first saw her picture, I thought, “WOW! She’s really attractive!” and I envied her blue-green eyes.
And in her book, the main character has a similar back ground; mixed with a white mother and black father, always being told how pretty she was as a child.
It reminded me of a conversation I had in college, sitting at a table with other black girls. I had commented that Terrance Howard had nice [green] eyes, and the girl across from me exploded into a mini tirade about how her “shit brown eyes” were just as attractive as Howard’s. Every part of me ached to say, “No. They’re not.” But I kept silent, wondering how she’d become under the delusion that brown eyes were appealing.
At some other point in my not-so-distant past, I was talking with my grandmother about actors and actresses I thought were attractive. I can’t even remember who I chose, but I remember her reaction; why didn’t I find darker skinned women attractive? Someone like Angela Bassett?
Then I’m reminded of how black women go natural to reclaim their own sense of beauty and power. And how straight hair is often times seen as black women trying to imitate white female beauty. Or of how black women will claim a dozen ethnicities under the sun, as if to exaggerate a mildly exotic looking trait. Or attempt to achieve some sort of otherness, that isn’t completely black.
My closest friend is mixed, and she would often tell me about how people would ask if she’s Indian (probably because of her hair and complexion). And jealousy would bubble to the surface and I reminisced of the few times where people asked me if I was Haitian. I talked about over and over (though to no one in particular) about how exotic or other I must look, especially when people remarked that I resembled two friends I had who were also mixed. I thought it meant that I looked mixed too.
I think about all these things as I struggle to read through the book, written by a black woman with blue eyes. I think about The Bluest Eye, an incredible story by Toni Morrison and I wonder if I’m like that character. In a way, I used to brag about being light skinned, as if it brought me closer to being exotic. I thought about how my mother sent my baby cousin in to tell me what color I was; “Yellow” he said, and I swallowed my excitement.
Do I want to be white?
Not necessarily. But I struggle find beauty in my own blackness, as I admire biracial girls, or girls from various ethnic backgrounds that aren’t mine. I spend quite a bit of time, wondering about my physical normalcy – how there’s nothing particularly exotic or interesting about the way that I look.
Self-esteem is so closely tied to our physical bodies, and I wonder how am I supposed to reconcile these feelings of not looking like Heidi W. Durrow, Halle Berry or some other individual?
I don’t have any answers, just loads of questions while I try to deal with my belief system regarding my body, and how unbelievably average it is.