‘Light Girls’: The Ugly, The Bad, and The Good (Part 3)

Hats off to all of you guys who have stuck with keeping up on this review series from the very beginning! If you haven’t read the two previous sections, start here and meander your way back on over to this post.

As you probably have noticed, most of the things that have been said in regards to the review have been mostly negative. I mentioned how overall, the documentary fell short. However, there are portions of this documentary experience that proved to be silver linings that are very much worth mentioning.

1. The truth of the beauty industry.

It’s not about black or white; it’s all about the green.

This was said by marketing consultant, James Campbell and I think that does a great job of encapsulating what really, truly matters in the industry. It honestly the reason why when beauty companies like Dove come out with beauty-related commercials that cater to people who don’t fit Western beauty ideals because of their weight, skin color, or hair texture, I am no longer moved. They are simply catering to the marginalized because they are now also marketable. However, those impossibly unrealistic ideal images still exist in many advertisements and beauty companies because, regardless of the #SelfLove movement that has been a fad in advertising in the past few years, those ideal images still sell.

2. The men in the “Men on Women” segment who recognized what really matters in romantic relationships.

While there were a host of men who likened black women to trophies or servants who were only fortunate to successfully have a man, there were others who recognized that what matters when it comes to romantic attraction: “the person inside”. Michael Jarrett and Darnell Porter were the voices of reason who mentioned that is is not about being dark or light-skinned; it is all about whether or not you mesh well with someone, how well you compliment one another in your endeavors, and if the potential significant other has the capacity to push you to achieve your goals.

3. Light-skinned girls got a platform to share their stories.

While the manner in which many of these stories could be improved upon, I am glad the platform existed for these women. I especially was drawn to the experiences in which light-skinned mixed girls were told in so many words that they weren’t really black due to their fair complexion. It was also interesting to hear stories like that of Amber Rose in which passing for white was so ingrained in her older family members that they refused to attend her wedding when she wedded a black man. I wish there were more stories like this in the documentary. I wish these narratives were further amplified throughout the documentary as they could have expanded on the identity conversation. I know I would have loved to watch it as a person who has dealt differently with identity issues as a cross-cultural individual. 

4. Soledad O’Brien.

Everything Soledad said in this documentary was pure gold. She mentioned her experience when she went to a coat store and was asked “what are you” by the person behind the register. When she said she was black, the clerk said, “No, black people are thieves. So what are you?” Soledad went on to say, “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I love this coat. And now I have to put this coat back.’”

And just when you thought her presence in the documentary could not get any better, she brings up how there are people who make speeches saying, “You know, I can’t wait for the day when we don’t see color.” In full disagreement, she remarks, “There isn’t a problem with seeing color. There is a problem when we see a problem with seeing color.”

5. My realizing the purpose of Light Girls and Dark Girls.

While reflecting upon these documentaries, I realized that they are meant to be conversation starters. And while many would agree that one or both of these documentaries fell short in thoroughly explaining the colorism issue in the black community, I hope that their flaws encourage us all the more to contribute to the colorism conversation, especially in our private spaces among friends and family. I hope that we will be able to shed light (no pun intended) to one another about our experiences and the privileges we may hold. I also hope that we come to a realization that dark skin is not code word for “damaged” and light skin is not code word for “trophy” or “target”. After all, blackness is not defined by struggle but by our resilience, strength, and community that exist despite the struggle. May we all come to the full realization of this truth.

What are your thoughts on “The Good” parts of the documentary and/or the documentary overall?

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