I didn’t realise I was different until people started pointing it out. My skin is visibly darker than the majority of people in Singapore. It was never an issue for me until I started school and became aware of the comments teachers were making. “Why is your skin so dark?” Even at the age of 7, I could read the judgemental tones behind the question. I hated being asked, and I would always reply with “Oh, I swim a lot.” I didn’t want to say that that was just the way I was created. As people got to know me, they stopped asking and I didn’t have to deal with it for a while. I was okay, until my mum told me we were moving to Melbourne.
I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to leave Singapore because I was just starting to feel comfortable in school. I told Mum one day that I was afraid that if I moved to a new school, people would start pointing out my different skin tone once more and I would feel like crap all over again. A few days later, Mum showed me an article about a woman who was very successful. “Look, she has dark skin.” Thank God for Mum. Little did I know that what awaited me in Melbourne was a lot different to what I expected. To my surprise, no one mentioned the colour of my skin. It didn’t seem like an issue at all. I was elated.
It got even better when I started high school and realised that people actually envied my skin tone. “I love your skin! I wish I wasn’t so pale.” My friends and I even joked about how brown I was (without being racist, of course). They made me feel comfortable in my skin and for that, I thank them. I’m not sure they realise what an impact they had on me. If they happen to read this, they know who they are. 🙂 It is because of them that I learnt to love the skin I’m in.
Gone are the days where I had to justify the colour of my skin with excuses. There are little things that happen every now and then that make me feel crap. Like my auntie giving me whitening body wash (which I refused to use) or overhearing my grandmother telling my relatives that my skin is lighter now and how that’s a good thing. The worst experience was getting mistaken for my grandma’s domestic helper whilst going marketing with her in Singapore. People can be so racist sometimes. Still, I don’t let these things get me down any more.
I know there’s nothing wrong with my skin. I love my skin colour. I love that I can still tan when I’m in the sun. I love the way God made me. I don’t want to be lighter. I want to be just the way I am.