My mother always tells me this story about her beloved red coat. My mom, a dark skinned woman, with a dark skinned mother was warned from an early age that bright colors weren’t for her, that they wouldn’t look right against her skin tone.
But my mother has always been one to get what she wants. So one day when she was around 9 or 10 years old, my grandmother took her coat shopping and told her to pick out one she wanted. My mother quickly grabbed a red wool coat, telling my grandmother that’s what she wanted. Motivated by her own conditioning and hang ups, my grandmother tried to tell my mother that she should choose a different color that red wasn’t for her. My mother, as a child, told her mother that if she didn’t buy her the red coat she wasn’t going to wear anything else.
Now, my grandmother could have easily told her she was buying something else and she would wear whatever she told her to. But I think she respected my mother’s resolve at such a young age and perhaps even recognized that her hang ups were just that her own. There was no need for her to pass that on to her young daughter.
But just because my mother was able to get her way with the coat, didn’t mean that my grandmother’s beauty rules and regulations didn’t affect her in other ways. To this day, my mother will not wear bright colored lipstick. A lot of it has to do with her preference for dark colors, (which do look good on her), but she does admit that she shies away from her bright colors because she was always told dark girls shouldn’t wear those colors. When we look at lipsticks she’ll show me a shade that she thinks will look good on me or my sister, (We’re considerably lighter than her.) But when we suggest she buy it, the answer is always “I’m too dark.”
It’s probably too late for my mom but I would love to get rid of these ridiculous notions that dark women don’t look good in certain shades. Which is why I can dig the new #DarkSkinRedLip Project from For Brown Girls. For Brown Girls, an organization founded by Karyn Washington, aims to celebrate dark skin women while combating colorism and promoting self love to all women.
The #DarkSkinRedLip Project attempts to break barriers by inviting women of darker hues to submit pictures of themselves wearing a red lip. So far, the project has collected 200 photos and has a goal of collecting a 1,000 pictures.
“Along with abolishing that stigma, the project will serve as inspiration to any girl or woman who have given into this stereotype and shied away from wearing a red lip.In viewing such images, a darker skinned girl who is hesitant to try a red lip will find the confidence to step out of her comfort zone, disregarding the opinion of anyone else. In an effort to better understand the feelings, attitudes and experiences of women relating to this issue we have also created a brief survey for participants to complete which has received numerous responses as well. Not only does this project encourage women of a darker hue, but sends a message to all women, everywhere to be confident in who they are and what they like, never letting someone else dictate that for them.”
If you’re interested in submitting a photo, for the #DarkSkinRedLip project, you can send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org including your name, state and brand/name of the lipstick you’re wearing.