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.