Loving the Skin I'm In
edited: Friday, November 30, 2007
By Kathryn S Carrington
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, May 25, 2007
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An article sent to Essence Magazine
Loving the Skin I’m In
I was torn, confused and twisted when I received the reactions from my black co-workers and many friends when I shared with them the cover of my new romance novel, entitled, “To Catch a Kitten”. I cringed at the remarks tossed at me like a ball of fire, ready to burn the skin from my hands, as if I were holding a hand full of hot grits! According to my sisters, the photo chosen by my publishing company wasn’t quote: Black enough”. Suddenly I felt a sick sense of isolation, disbelief and embarrassment, thinking that, maybe I wasn’t: Black enough-myself - upon realizing that the photo resembled, none other than traces of my self. I had described and then envisioned my main character- Kitten-looking actually like the young model on the cover and yet, because of my co-workers and friends and their dislike for the cover, I was feeling confused and ashamed. To add salt to my injury, I immediately emailed my editor and asked her if I could change the cover. I want the woman to appear more African-American and less Caucasian looking, is what I told her. She emailed me back and said that the girl on the cover was indeed, an African – American, much like the character I had described in my book. Upon feeling dazed and, not to mention, rather stunned- I thanked her and sat at my desk, looking rather wan. What the hell was I doing? I thought, I love this cover!
It was time for me to check myself. Suddenly I realized that most of my life I had been feeling a bit isolated and ashamed. I went to school with blacks through out my entire education and was often taunted and teased because I was extremely light - skinned. I had been trying to make up for the fact that I too, felt that I was not black enough -that is- on the outside, for indeed I was very black on the inside. I loved the taste of soul food: collard greens, Macaroni and cheese. I went to black shows, danced at black parties and read plenty of great black books. I have plenty of black girl friends and love my two black dark-skinned grand-daughters more than life itself. Then what was my problem? Like many of my darker - skinned sisters, I was uncomfortable in my skin, always thinking that I was just not good enough. I had heard so many stories of light-skinned sisters thinking that they were prettier or better than their darker –skinned sisters, and have all too often – run into some myself - that left me feeling even more ashamed as well as embarrassed for them. I was afraid to show any signs of liking myself and constantly feeling guilty if I dared thought that I was just a little bit pretty; not to mention the fact that, I had been raised by a light-skinned mother who constantly told me that my darker-skin sisters, would never care for me, no matter how kind I was towards them or how much I wanted to befriend them. Thankfully, I never believed that notion and it was good that I didn’t because I have many wonderful friends of all nationalities, today.
Today I am still striving to be the confident, light-skin black woman that I know myself to be. I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t struggling with the fact that I have to continue loving the skin that I’m in; but - like many people who come from all walks of life to live in our great nation, I have to learn to love what my higher power has given me and that is an appearance to be proud of, no matter what. I am extremely blessed to be a part of that semi - circle that is formed by the rainbow that projects the many shades of our heritage. I am also extremely delighted and happy with the cover of my new fiction entitled “To Catch a Kitten”; but I can’t help but to wonder about the young woman on its cover. I am often times wondering how the young, African-American woman, who looks very Caucasian, on the cover of my new fiction, feels. Surely: she has to be going through something.
Kathryn S. Carrington
Web Site: Loving the Skin I'm In
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|Reviewed by Cryssa C
|I read your article "Loving the Skin I'm In" with curiosity and with fascination. I am Caucasian, but I have a daughter who is bi-racial as well as 7 "black" children from Haiti. I hope that none of them ever feel that their skin is not light enough, or dark enough to fit in anywhere. It is sad to me that my hope is likely not to be realized...but I also understand, as I so often feel that I am looked down upon by those who feel I am the "wrong" color to raise these children.
My favorite comment about being comfortable about the skin I'm in came from my then 4 year old daughter. We had many people telling us that frequently transracially adopted children (those adopted into Cauc. families) wished they were white as well. We wanted to gain a sense of whether or not our children felt this way. We asked our daughters if they liked white skin or brown skin better, or the same. Our daughter piped up and very diplomatically said, "White is pretty, but I like brown on me." May she ever feel that way...for brown is beautiful on her!
|Reviewed by Reginald Johnson
|A fascinating article. It highlights what should be a given ... color and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder.
Warm regards ...
Reginald V. Johnson
|Reviewed by Gwendolyn Thomas Gath
|Wonderful article and all too real. Greatest gift is life regardless of what skin we are in, far too many times people do accuse other's of many things concerning their heritage however it is what we believe in our hearts that we are. Regardless, of what anyone else says or feels the beauty of each person is to be found in the interior. Another excellent read and I do hope Essence Magazine published it too!
You are beautiful regardless what skin or heritage you are!
Sincerely and with blessing,
From the Heart of an Aritst...
Kathryn S Carrington