We had the opportunity to talk to Karyn Washington, founder of the website For Brown Girls, and mind behind the project, #DarkSkinRedLip, on more than one occasion for the site. The young woman launched her website in order to celebrate the beauty of black women who don’t always feel the love out here, and pushed the project #DarkSkinRedLip to encourage black women of all shades to embrace wearing red lipstick after rapper A$AP Rocky said that women of darker complexions shouldn’t rock it. That project, like For Brown Girls, was about empowering. That’s what Washington was all about:
“When the blog was initially created, my cousin and I were dealing with self-esteem issues relating to our complexion and we would vent to each other. Through talking it out and building each other up, we felt better but also didn’t like the fact that we were even having these feelings to begin with. We also realized that other girls may be going through the same thing and wanted to use Tumblr as a means to vent, encourage others and overcome. Since then, I have gained a greater passion for the cause and helping others.”
But while empowering and supporting black women through her endeavors, at the same time, Washington was also facing some struggles, reportedly depression, and according to a friend, trying to deal with the loss of her mother. All these things eventually became too much for her. Sadly, Washington, passed away on April 8 at the age of 22, reportedly committing suicide. This is a major blow for all who were fans of her amazing work, as well as her friends, including blogger and friend Aliyah:
When I look at you I see a reflection of myself and most certainly that is why this hurts so badly. From now on I’ll forever remember your big beautiful smile, your charm, ambition, professionalism, entrepreneurship, confidence, humility, your drive, and your beautiful Brown Skin. That is what I’ll choose to remember… because to be honest, I’m a bit angry with you. Indeed I’m being selfish, but my heart is devastated- yet, because I know a tad bit about what you were going through I can understand. I’m guilt tripping because I wish I could’ve been there for you a little bit more. I’m so sorry, but I can’t help but to think that with just a little bit more time or a little less distance, proximity would’ve allowed me to make, maybe the slightest difference…. Forgive me!
We’ve spoken about the struggle of dealing with depression and mental illness on this site, and the propensity for many people of color to pass on seeking help and counseling because of worry of public opinion and shame. With losses like these, it’s even more important to spread the word about the realities of these internal battles. Washington was a woman who made a difference and her push to remind us as sistas of our beauty was major. Continue to support it and to spread love, as Washington so loved to do.