The Colour of Our Skin

I just have to accept how I am and how I look

These are the words from Laura May McMullan after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma (skin cancer). Laura had spent many years using sunbeds only to be hit with this diagnosis some 12 years after she stopped using them.

The above words from Laura are very poignant. After spending years of trying to change herself, look different and be what she called ‘Mahogany’ in the end she’s had to accept her natural skin colour just as it is.

In this interview with the BBC (BBC News Magazine, 23rd February 2015) Laura shares how she did not feel like herself unless she had a tan.

It’s quite ironic that on one hand we have many people with fair skin perpetually seeking a tan; whilst elsewhere we have the other extreme of black and Asian people spending millions of dollars (The Guardian, 10th February 2014) on skin lightening creams – in the belief that they can never make it, be successful, or be accepted in society, until the colour of their skin is different – in this case lighter.

This highlights how globally it is common for us to NOT accept ourselves, including the colour of our skin, regardless of its shade.

This is an issue that affects men as well as women.

The Managing Director of Emami (A cosmetics company in India) stated to India’s Director of the Dark is Beautiful campaign that “There is a need in our society for fairness creams, so we are meeting that need.” (The Guardian, 10th February 2014)

Do sunbed manufacturers and their distributors say the same about people wanting to be brown?

And have we ever stopped to ask why the need to change the colour of our skin is so prevalent and where this need has come from?

Skin colour is determined by the amount of melanin in the top layer of skin.

Considering that skin colour is just the ‘top layer’, why would we put so much focus on the top surface of who we are, rather than what is inside of us?

We have neglected to get to know who we are inside, in our essence and therefore when we are not accepting of this aspect of ourselves we leave a gaping hole that needs to be filled and hence a market is created with the obsessive need for things that can make us feel better about ourselves, on a surface level, like skin lightening creams and sunbeds.

It strikes me that the need to change the colour of our skin is just another way that we are forever trying to change ourselves and avoid the discontentment of not feeling comfortable with who we are. From young, we are often seen for who we are on the surface only and so we can unconsciously begin to see that as our identity. For many, one’s identity often has its roots in our ethnic origin and how we see ourselves from that perspective, rather than who we are underneath it all.

If we treat children differently due to the colour of their skin, their hair, or their talents, giving praise or preference to some over others in the smallest of ways, we create children (and then adults) who grow up thinking that they are only good and valuable for what they can do and how they look. If a child is not celebrated for their natural qualities i.e. how joyous, confident, thoughtful, caring, sweet, playful and loving they are, they will grow up focusing on what they can do to please another to gain some form of attention or praise. This leaves a person empty, forever seeking to find who they are, rather than one standing confidently knowing who they are.

Laura May McMullan’s closing statement, ‘… I just have to accept how I am and how I look hits home when reading her story. It is an opening reminder that in the end no matter how much we try to change ourselves we will ALWAYS have to come back to the immutable truth that in our essence there is absolutely no-thing that needs changing. 

Ultimately it is about accepting who we are both on the inside and outside.

by Shevon Simon, London, UK

References:
BBC News Magazine, ‘Why I regret my years as a tanning addict’, 23rd February 2015
The Guardian, ‘Skin-whitening creams reveal the dark side of the beauty industry’, Tansy Hoskins, 10th February 2014

You may also Enjoy:
True Beauty Lost and Found by Suzanne Anderssen
Getting Caught in our Outer Beauty by Sheri Gompelman
Being a Black Woman by Shevon Simon

675 thoughts on “The Colour of Our Skin

  1. So many of us do not like to accept how we look – be this in terms of skin colour, hair colour, straight hair or curly hair, the shape of our bottom of the shape of our hips etc etc. Once again our focus lies on how we look at the what we do that fits in or gets attention. And all this at the expense of the other qualities that we all bring together for all. How different would it be if we were all blind and could not see these things, and instead what mattered was how we felt the world to be from our hearts? Then our priorities might just change.

  2. One sentence that completely takes the pressure off all of us: “in the end no matter how much we try to change ourselves we will ALWAYS have to come back to the immutable truth that in our essence there is absolutely no-thing that needs changing.”

  3. Thank you Shevon for a great blog that reminds us of the real importance (deep inside, our relationship with the deepest part of ourselves) over and above any superficial markings or colourings such as our skin.

  4. I have always had the knowing that if we peel back our skin, we are all the same on the inside, physically so, but it also is the same for how we are in our essence. We may be short or tall, big or small, black or white, man or woman, physical features which represent our external uniqueness, but look deeply inside and we all have a need to be loved, to be relationships with others, to live a joy-filled life. So, how different life would be if we let go of any judgement of how we and others look on the outside and allow ourselves to know the wonders that lay inside.

  5. It can be difficult to accept our wrinkly and sagging faces as we grow old if thats what we see when we look in the mirror. If instead we look into our own eyes and feel what is there we can read where we are at and allow ourselves the intimacy that is absent when we just see the facial features.

    1. To be able to look past my wrinkles and sagging bits has been a work in process for a while but I am delighted to have arrived at a place where most of the time I love the face of the woman which looks back at me from the mirror. And on the days I don’t, it is usually a message to stop and to ask myself, what is going on with me today that I am not seeing my beauty. And even on those days, all I need to do is to look into my eyes, and there I am.

  6. Absolutely agree, it is imperative that we fully accept who we are, both on the inside and the outside, for how can we love ourselves if we don’t accept ourselves.

  7. It is sad that so many are prepared to do things that impact their health and wellbeing in order to fit a picture of how they think they should look. It is only when we reconnect to our divine essence that we can feel how who we are is not affected by any outside factors and can come to a settlement that allows us to be all of us whatever shade our skin. It is crucial that we reflect this knowing to children so that the tide can start to turn and we all become more accepting of our outward appearance whatever that may be.

  8. Yes, lack of accepting ourselves is huge, so much energy is spent in trying to be something different, ‘it is common for us to NOT accept ourselves, including the colour of our skin, regardless of its shade’, instead of accepting we are all beautiful as we are, inside and out.

  9. “Considering that skin colour is just the ‘top layer’, why would we put so much focus on the top surface of who we are, rather than what is inside of us?” So true Shevon, as we are all the same underneath our skin.

    1. We get caught up in superficial differences rather than embracing that we are all equal Sons of God with our own unique gifts to share with everyone – celebrating these would make the colour of our skin etc irrelevant.

  10. How we look is strongly governed by how we feel about ourselves. When we have a bad day surely we think we look ugly too, when we feel great and love ourselves we love how we look too. This shows how we can work on our issues with how we look by taking more loving care for ourselves and from there naturally loving ourselves more so we can see the beauty in us again what ever the colour of our skin is. In true beauty there is a deep ease and acceptance of ourselves, it is not something we can put on or create by changing the outside alone.

  11. It is crazy to see, and have experienced myself, how in not accepting who we are, we willingly choose to deform and distort bodies in order to fit a picture that far from represents the natural innate beauty we are in essence. For the reality of who we are resides in the quality of our essence, and through our connection to this quality we express our beauty naturally and effortlessly, reflecting the truth of who we all are in essence.

  12. I love how you also describe the supply and demand principle. We can be so ‘shocked’ and judgmental about what happens in the world, whereas we are all the ones that have asked for it.

  13. In not nurturing the inner most art of us, which is perfect beyond measure, pristine in its beauty that simply cannot be compared because it is so perfect, we crazily seek something that will change us. White skin, dark skin, blond hair, dark hair, contact lenses for blue eyes, green eyes, tattoos to make us very very different… all to cover up the constant angst and perennial ache of being disconnected to the real beauty we have within.

    1. Spot on Katerina – these are all ways to distract us to simply not address the real craving, the real ache and the true emptiness of our lack of inner connection with Soul.

  14. “we will ALWAYS have to come back to the immutable truth that in our essence there is absolutely no-thing that needs changing.” So every choice we make is to bring us back to who we already are.

  15. How much energy is wasted in pursuing these various distraction to make us fit into the supposed ideal picture and belief of how things ‘should’ be, rather simply accepting the true and innermost beauty common to all. Nothing we do will ever change the innermost Divine Essence that is always calling us to return to live in alignment with this truth.
    “Laura May McMullan’s closing statement, ‘… I just have to accept how I am and how I look …‘ hits home when reading her story. It is an opening reminder that in the end no matter how much we try to change ourselves we will ALWAYS have to come back to the immutable truth that in our essence there is absolutely nothing that needs changing”.

  16. I think a big part of accepting how we look is knowing that we are so much more than how we look, we have a depth, an essence, a vibrancy, a great wisdom – there’s so many things that are part of our make up, yet somehow the focus seems to always be on how we look. Yet we all know if we fall in love with someone, we don’t fall in love with the colour of the skin, or the shape of their nose but who they truly are.

  17. I love this sharing and have often considered that exact thing- how people with darker skin can want to have lighter skin and those with fairer skin want to have darker skin- it really does expose how we don’t accept ourselves and how we continually look for something else to correct instead of truly embracing and appreciating ourselves exactly as we are.

  18. The grass always seems to be greener when it comes to beauty – straight haired people want curls, curly haired people want to be straight hair, women with big boobs want small boobs, women with small boobs want big boobs…we have impossible standards of beauty which are completely unattainable and when coupled with a rampant lack of self-worth in women – it’s not a great recipe.

  19. Its funny , but we have been designed to be who we are . Even our finger prints are designed to be who we are . Changing any aspect of that design interferes with who we are designed to be in livingness. How can it be that a person does not feel comfortable in their own skin. This cannot be learned from self as its one’s self own skin.

  20. The colour of our skin can be a huge decision maker for people – they have a pre-judgement about how people are based on what they look like. But as you say here – in this we ignore the essence of the person -who they are under a very thin layer of skin that does not define them. There is so much more to see than what someone looks like.

  21. Absolutely – it makes no sense that lighter skinned people want to be darker and darker skinned people want to be lighter, surely our exact skin make up is the perfect design for us and us alone?

    1. Our ‘composition’ and the way we come through into this world is totally and absolutely perfect and as it should be and yet there is a part of us that fights it rather than surrendering to what it brings for us to reflect and share with all others around us.

  22. Accepting who we are both inside and out, particularly as women. must be enormously threatening to the world as everything it seems is designed to shake this acceptance. Full acceptance of ourselves would change everything!

  23. It is crazy how much importance we attach to the colour of our skin when it is our essence within that is the missing link in our relationship with ourselves. Once we acknowledge this skin colour becomes irrelevant.

  24. I felt like this about my hair for a period of time, if it wasn’t straightened I wouldn’t feel like myself… well perceived, that I was myself when I had straight hair. In truth I wasn’t really expressing myself because that may have been with curly hair or straight hair and different times. It is amazing the difference when you know yourself from within and what simply slips away as being important.

  25. “why would we put so much focus on the top surface of who we are, rather than what is inside of us?”
    A great question which exposes how attached we are to comparison which sets up jealousy and thus choosing to live in consciousness that wants nothing other than us to remain stuck on the surface of things and not dare to venture back to the truth of the divinity that we are within.

  26. How simple life is when we realise that the truth is within us all the time, waiting for us to return to and re-claim in full – accepting and knowing our divine essence is the great key to living life from love in full and there is nothing to that can make it lesser in any way. Serge Benhayon offers this reflection 24/7.
    “It is an opening reminder that in the end no matter how much we try to change ourselves we will ALWAYS have to come back to the immutable truth that in our essence there is absolutely no-thing that needs changing”.

  27. The fact that we have two very different obsessions with altering our skin and its appearance revels that our problem has nothing to do with skin and everything to do with our relationship with ourselves. What you have shared in this article is very timeless and apt, we are missing the key ingredient to our own true self love and care and that is a relationship with our essence.

  28. It is extraordinary to read these revealing notes about how extremely prevalent the lack of self-worth is in society, the lengths that people are going to to assuage this dis-ease and the resultant havoc that is created

  29. Thank you for writing about this Shevon. This is one of these things that is so accepted (to not like our skin colour as it is) yet when you stop and consider it, it actually does not make sense (to constantly want to change ourselves and how we look).

  30. When children are being celebrated and thus confirmed in who they are rather than for what they do, I find it amazing to see and feel how their inner knowing gives them a confidence that comes from within also sharing their wisdom as a natural way of being.

  31. Once we get the tan, the whiter skin or the desired look, what is on the inside remains. No external fixing will make us feel beautiful if we do not feel our beauty from within.

  32. This is a beautiful example how we think we can live on a skin deep level only but how this is in fact not possible, that there is more to us, and all of this more, the whole of us, needs tending to all of the time.

  33. “why would we put so much focus on the top surface of who we are, rather than what is inside of us?” This exposes the fact that we so easily judge each other by what we see rather than connecting to each other and feeling the equalness of who we truly are.

  34. “Ultimately it is about accepting who we are – both on the inside and outside.” As I have grown older and with the support of Esoteric women’s health I feel when I am at ease with myself and how I am feeling towards myself in a loving way what others see on the outside and may comment on doesn’t bother me as it used to.

  35. ‘Ultimately it is about accepting who we are – both on the inside and outside.’ True Shevon and I feel the more I connect with wo I am on the inside, my essence, the more I am content with how I look on the outside. I am looking the way I look for a reason and my beauty, my joy emanates out and my body loves this. The moment I go in this is not okay and that is not okay, my body shrinks and I make myself smaller or unseen and that feels awful.

  36. Shevon this is such a great question “Considering that skin colour is just the ‘top layer’, why would we put so much focus on the top surface of who we are, rather than what is inside of us?”. There is so much judgement and comparison that comes with skin colour, someone feeling they are better than or less than another. This is not ok, especially considering our skin is only the top layer. There is a way to go across the globe, for there to be equality.

  37. I grew up indecently being ‘paid out’ for my fair skin. So, I spent many hours in the well-known Australian Queensland hot sun frying myself surfing, then sun baking, then riding many kms home in the sun. I had very fair skin so I would burn red, then look brown for one or two days, then my freckles would intensify. I hated my skin complexion. It was not until I started to take deep care of myself from the inside and live from my essence did I start to literally shine through my skin, eyes and hair. I was bullied by the colour of my hair too. NOW, I love everything about me I am sexy, and I get more and more sexier as I live all that I feel who I am from my essence. The Joy emanates through my pores. No cream needed it is the light of my essence and you can literally see it shining out of my body extremes.

  38. Some great insights and questions you raise here Shevon to what has been an age-old practice amongst women especially. Why indeed do we feel so compelled to change our skin tone – our fixation on outer beauty l’m sure has something to do with it, but there are a number of other factors too no doubt. We tend not to associate academic achievement with dark skin – crazy really as I write it, but true as something generally held. Essentially the moment you measure another by anything other the equal quality of our essence, there will be a comparison of one characteristic to another, and from there, beliefs or ideals adopted.

  39. Thank you Shevon for a great sharing, I can remember when young wanting a tanned skin thinking that this looked attractive and healthy, It seems now such a pointless pursuit for there is no satisfaction in changing the outer, it will never be enough, truly accepting ourselves and the beauty we bring and are, only comes from connecting to this loveliness within.

  40. The cultural importance of skin colour has fuelled generations of separation within societies all over the world. And yet, we all know that the colour of a person’s skin is only skin deep, that underneath and within there is much much more, and in fact that what we find underneath the skin of every body is the same. You do not need a doctors degree or a profession in science to see that all blood runs red.
    So why do we continue to do it?
    Why is something that is so superficial able to be so influential in the relationships that we have with eachother?
    Is it possible that there is a larger culture that we are all born in to – the culture of being human? Which is being perpetuated in child after child with out us realising that we are dong it, and thus – are we raising children, to be adults who see eachother from the perception that the colour of your skin is evidence enough to identify who you are and values that you live by?

  41. These superficial differences have been the cause of mass genocide, slavery, wars etc. What has got us to this point where we see ourselves as so separate to another that even though we may not physically harm, we will treat others as lesser because of judgements we hold? Judgement of others as well as ourselves, because if we can see another as lesser than us, there are probably others we see as better than us too. Below the surface layer of skin colour, religion, race, sex etc we are all the same and have so much more in common with one another.

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