MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL… They succeeded in my messing up my psyche and almost driving me in sane by reminding me how my skin colour was not good enough. I had always had the notion that the reflection on the mirror was the image of the person standing in front of it. My knowledge of mirrors had been messed up and I almost came to believe that the reflection could be something else entirely different from who stands in front of it.
A hollow sank into my stomach as the girls in the rest room laughed at me. I stopped and turned back to be sure who they were mocking and laughing at in such a degrading manner. It was a kind of irritating laughter that made you feel you were probably wearing your dress inside out. My eyes travelled all through the area of my body where my dress covered until it got to its hem. I raised the hem of my dress to confirm if the stitches were well placed and no loose thread was dangling in sight.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with my dress. Contrary to my thoughts, their laughter pointed out that everything was wrong with the colour of my skin.
‘Wunmi, you are so black. Why don’t you do something about it?’ asked the fair skinned girl with pink lips in a pitiful tone.
‘Yeah, she is right. Why don’t you just tone it so that some fairness would show, at least?’ said the other girl with a fairer complexion.
I looked away and pleaded with my heart to ignore them but it was an uphill task for the poor organ that had not been given the adequate preparation for that. That was not the first time I had been asked dehumanizing questions about the colour of my skin. I had once been disqualified from a beauty contest because of the colour of my skin. I had lost a job opportunity because they needed someone who had a fair complexion. I had once been given a back seat in a gathering because they wanted the camera man to capture the pictures of the fair complexioned ladies in the front row. I had watched doors slammed in my face because of my skin colour.
In my insistence of retaining my original colour, my decisions had been questioned countless number of times as opportunities fly over my head. I would always hear them say,
‘She is beautiful but I wish she had a fair skin.’
I would mask up my displeasure with a plastic smile and look for a lonely place to shed tears. The resounding sound of those unpleasant lines despising my blackness had become a recurring decimal since my childhood and one would think I had grown a thick skin about it. Nay. The hurt of those despicable words shattered me anytime it squeezed out its way from the lips of anyone who made the statement.
Time and again, I had watched myself shrink and shrug till I became defeated. I would sometimes look forward to the day when it would be possible to remove my dark skin and replace it with a fair complexion, to the applause of those who had held me down as a slave to their dehumanizing thinking patterns.
Rolling through the years, I toughened up and revolted against such dehumanization. I toughened up to the despicable questioning of my black shiny skin that stood out everywhere it found itself. Scales fell from my eyes as I was able to see the beautiful reflection of myself in the mirror that their thoughts and words had hidden from me every time I looked at it. I bade goodbye to the many years of playing to the gallery. I summoned the courage to push aside that my colour had something in common with evil. I wore an imperishable pride that I had a skin colour that knew nothing about wearing out and cracking. I soared on the wings that my colour had everything to do with beauty. My new found confidence stood a notch higher to the extent that I can now stand in front of the mirror and ask,
‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the blackest of them all?’
Photo Credit:Omowunmi Bisiriyu