As a brown-skinned girl, my summers were once filled with self-deprivation. I avoided going swimming or out to an amusement park because of worry I would get darker.
Growing up, kids would tell me my skin color resembled dirt, or poop, or burnt toast. I used to come home from school crying and run straight to the bathroom to try and scrub the brown off.
But, it wasn't just kids that made me feel this way. TV and magazines reinforced that beautiful was never brown. And, my family - many brown women who had also been conditioned to be ashamed of their skin color- constantly nagged me to bathe in 110 SPF sunscreen or better yet stay indoors.
You can imagine, for me, this accumulated into toxically low self-image.
Then my world was flipped upside down when I learned about colorism -- the discrimination against people with dark skin that often even comes from those of the same ethnic group.