Raising a dark-skinned black girl has to be done with more than just good intention, but with careful thought and conscious effort. The objective is to raise a girl that, despite society’s underappreciation of her and her skin tone, has a good understanding of her immense worth and is equipped with the tools to navigate the world to her advantage. Here are some tips to help you do just that:
1. Compliment Her Dark Skin
This may seem obvious, but many parents attempt to combat colorism by ignoring darker skin and light skin in an effort to make them seem the same. The problem with this, is it isn’t a corrective solution, a solution that actively corrects the issue of colorism. You need to counter the media’s influence and to do this you’re going to have to work extra hard to make sure she associates dark skin with beauty. According to Oprah.com, when African American psychologists were asked how best to raise dark-skinned girls to love their skin, they responded with the following advice:
For children between the ages of 3-6: Refer to your child as beautiful and surround them with stories and images of beautiful dark-skinned children who are intelligent and amicable.
For children between the ages of 7-12: “Associate her dark skin with things valued.” Also, your tone of voice has a lot to do with making her feel the value of dark skin. Commenting often about the beauty of her dark hues and using a tone of admiration and appreciation will inspire her your child to take pride in her features.
For pre-teens and adolescents: Speak often and openly acknowledge dark-skinned black women who have achieved great things, as well as darker toned African American and African women who are prized for their beauty.
Personally, I recommend starting a dialogue about negative stereotypes about black women, colorism, featurism and texturism at an earlier age than 13. The earlier you equip the young dark-skinned girl in your life with the tools to understand her situation and protect herself, the better chance she has of growing up without self-hate.