Eyes like starsin the beauty of the night! (Theodora O. Agyeman-Anane)
You have lovely dark skin. There is a shine to it which reminds me of the colour purple. My grandmothers and mother complimented my skin. These words made me strong like seeds in the soil turning into strong and tall trees. And just like a tree it was difficult for the bullies to break me when they started to attack my skin colour.
Growing up in Ghana, for what I can remember, it was a bliss. Well people called me names because I was too skinny and looked like a boy. But I always saw the glass half full. I didn’t mind having my school teacher call me ONE because he said my face was thin as the number.
On the other hand the boys wanted to play with me because I looked like one of them. Not so pretty and delicate like the other girls whom had ribbons in their hair. In my opinion every disadvantage came with another advantage.
Then I moved to Italy and the power of words started to make sense to me. The worse period was the last year of middle school – age 13/14 – after which I decided to take a break from my education.
I was not called names because of my weight, I was normal healthy weight and I looked like a girl. But what I had different from all of my classmates was the colour of my skin. My skin became a tool of derision.
The girls were envious because I don’t have hairy arms. The guys and some other people out of school called me all kind of degrading names just for their own amusement. Simple words as: Kaffir, negra, imbianchino (literally translated white-washer), pipistrello (bat), mora (dark girl) and when they wanted to be friendly they called me bella moretina (beautiful little dark girl). I didn’t even know the meaning of some words until I went home to look in the dictionary.
Their words made me wonder would I still be beautiful if I wasn’t mora? Am I beautiful because I am mora? Or am I beautiful because I am a beautiful girl! I always resolved that I am a beautiful girl – full stop.
However, there were months I couldn’t see the glass half full. I managed to pass my exams and get out of that horrible experience. Also that experience helped me love my skin colour even more, and made me feel proud for my background and my life experience. But I don’t wish anyone to go through that period in their lives.
QUESTION: Have you ever had any bad experience in life due to your skin colour, gender, religion or simply for being yourself?
Please share with me :).
Note: First published 25 Jan 2012