“Distractingly pale”

I was hesitant to write this. A voice inside my head kept sarcastically saying “Oh, fabulous idea, Holly. We needed more white people writing about race.” And then the little voice would roll its non-existent eyes.

Normally, I would listen to it. But everything in this article has been eating at me, devouring me, really. The photographs, the skin-lightening cream, the intense stares of strange men in restaurants. None of it sat well with me — instead it churned and bubbled and brought to the surface ideas and questions that needed to be addressed. This blog post is the result of those two weeks of boiling contemplation.

But at home, I’m too fair. At home, everyone is trying to get darker, by roasting in the sun and lying in the death traps they call tanning beds. But here, just yesterday, I saw a commercial for Vaseline that lightens the skin. I don’t know what to make of that. There’s dissonance being created in my head — and my gut.

I still feel odd about it, because I’m just not sure I have the language yet to talk about this. But with a little reassurance from my editors, I decided that, words or not, I ought to give it a try anyway.

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Holly Thorpe

Holly Thorpe is a writer and journalist.

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