The dark side of beauty (4/5)

By Drum Digital
06 November 2014

Karabo was determined her inner beauty would shine through.

“FLAWLESS BEAUTY. For beauty that goes beyond the surface,” it read. Who were they trying to fool, she thought. It wasn’t called the beauty industry for nothing. Looks were the bottom line.

The lift was not working so Karabo had to take the stairs. It seemed everything was going against her. With every step she took, her heart felt heavier and heavier.

Part of her wanted to cry but another, more stubborn part did not want to give them the satisfaction of breaking her spirit. She couldn’t shake the ugly memories that crowded her: the giggling girls at school who had called her names because of her dark skin; the traffic cop who had wanted to see her ID – to prove that she wasn’t a West African illegal immigrant – before demanding what he called “KFC lunch expenses”.

Half-way down the nine-storey stairwell she plonked herself down on the cold concrete steps, pulled her cellphone out of her bag and called her mother. “Hello, Ma . . . ” she sighed. As usual, her mother was the first person she turned to when she was down. “Hi, honey. So, did you book the job?” her mother asked excitedly. “No, Ma. They said I’m too dark for their campaign.”

Her head rested on her left hand and all she needed, all she wanted in that moment, was to be hugged and told that everything would work out just fine. She knew that was not how the world worked but it would really be nice if once in a while it did turn out that way. In disbelief, her mother replied, “Really? They said that to your face?” “No, Ma, not to my face.

They whispered it to each other. Hayi, Ma, I just wish people would get over this obsession with light skin.” She raised her voice in frustration. “Whatever happened to embracing African beauty in all its forms and in its true essence?” “Calm down, baby. You shouldn’t let them get to you like that. As long as you are true to yourself eventually everything will work out for you.”

Karabo let out a heavy sigh. As much as she had wanted to hear that everything would be okay, hearing it didn’t make any difference.

To be continued...

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