Friday, 27 July 2012

The Colour of Beautiful

Her skin, the colour of mellow bronze, glistens brightly against the summer sky. Her hair, thick and startlingly black, dangles loosely like the waves of the raging ocean. 

In the Western world this is how I have often been described, the colour of my skin and the texture of my hair is something most of them aspire. 

Where I came from, I was just plain 'maitim' (dark-skinned) with a very messy hair, not fitting of the nation's idea of fair skinned and stick straight-haired "beautiful". 

The happy childhood memories are somewhat marred by the playground banters that centred on the colour of my skin. Before Coco, my family nickname, became associated with Chanel, there was a Filipino song “A coconut nut is a giant nut” that followed me throughout my younger years. Then growing up, the usual compliment (or lack thereof) I would receive was that I “would have been beautiful if you had lighter complexion”. Some people had other ideas “You are lucky for the colour of your skin", they told me."You will be very popular with the foreigners” as though I am an exotic commodity who will peddle herself to the first bidder. I resented that most.

There was nothing I wanted more than to be considered ‘normal’, I didn’t even ask to be beautiful. I would have been tempted to pay for whitening products like most of my compatriots have done but I was sensible enough to realise that true love looks beyond the colour of my skin.

And indeed once in Europe, true love eventually found me. In a story that seemed like The Ugly Duckling coming to life, I have found the place where I can be myself, with dark skin and curly hair, and still be beautiful. 


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