We Are Beautiful Too

by Raye Zaragoza

When I was in elementary school, I always wanted to look like Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a girl in my third grade class. Elizabeth had green eyes, light brown hair, and fair skin. All of the boys liked her. She looked like all of the girls I saw on television. She looked like the girls on 7th heaven, and the Disney channel. I never really saw girls like me on television, so I always thought I must not be a “mainstream” kind of pretty. Or maybe I wasn’t pretty at all. I would go to bed every night and pray to wake up with fair skin. I remember looking in the mirror every night and thinking “I would do anything to have fair skin and green eyes like Elizabeth.”

In high school, my sister and I bought blue and green colored contacts. We thought they made us look cool. Made us look a little bit more like the girls on television. I even put lemon juice on my skin every morning before i took a shower, to lighten my skin. I hated how my skin got so tan when I was out in the sun. I hated how the other girls didn’t get super dark like me. I wanted to have fair skin and green eyes like what I thought was beautiful.

It wasn’t until my very late teenage years, that I realized my very unhealthy infatuation with light skin, light eyes, and light hair was an outcome of lack of diversity in the entertainment industry. As a child, I didn’t have many brown women my age on television to look up to. I always wanted to be a performer, and turning on the TV made me feel like that wasn’t possible for someone like me. I never want young girls of color to feel like that again. I want young women of color growing up, proud of who they are and the way they look. I never want them to feel like they have to change themselves. As an artist, it was my goal to inspire other young women that they have a voice, and they are beautiful the way they are. I am really glad that there is a lot more diversity in music and television that there was when I was a kid. But we still have a long way to go. And I am proud and hopeful to continue to pave the way for other young artists of color. We are beautiful too.

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Raye Zaragoza

More About Raye

Raye Zaragoza is an award-winning singer-songwriter & activist whose multinational heritage (Native American (O’odham), Mexican, Taiwanese and Japanese) deeply informs her music. Staying true to the folk tradition, Raye carries an acoustic guitar and a message. Her viral protest song “In The River,” a response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, garnered half a million views, national media coverage, and a Global Music Award and Honesty Oscar. The song was named the #2 Protest Song by Paste Magazine in 2017, and one of the Top 25 Protest Songs of the 21st Century by WhatCulture.

Tracks from Raye’s debut album Fight For You have been featured on numerous Spotify playlists including ‘Feminist Friday,’ ‘Invisible No More,’ and Cyndi Lauper’s Protest Songs Playlist. Raye has captured hearts around the USA and Europe with her activist anthems, political commentaries, and love songs. This summer, she will be joining Dispatch and Nahko and Medicine for the People on their Summer Tour, which includes dates at Red Rocks and two nights at Central Park Summerstage

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