I grew up trying on my sister’s “porcelain” colored makeup, however quickly learned that society would not accept this form of self expression and sisterly love. Bobbi Brown and Cover Girl informed me that my skin color is “Warm Walnut.” Apparently my mom was beige, my other sister’s were deep mocha, caramel and ivory. I had always dreamt the moment I met my birth family that I’d feel an immediate sense of peace and belonging. But, I didn’t. Although surreal to be surrounded by a family of “Warm Walnuts” for the very first time in my life, I also realized how much I fit in with my multi-sectioned makeup toned family. It was a difficult realization to admit that I feel more comfortable and at home next to the beiges, deep mochas and the ivory’s alike.
Although I know that my skin tone is not porcelain, I cannot consider myself a true Warm Walnut either. Identity is not simply a counting of melanin, or a kitschy name via a marketing scheme, but rather it’s how we’ve come to assimilate and own the labels others have assigned us. I am not just a hearing aid-wearer, or a “hard to place” foster child. I don’t wear my afro to make a statement in a predominantly white environment, and will not heed to Bobbi Brown’s labels to help shape my sense of self.
**This short post is written out of a bit of frustration as I was recently asked if I was “single handedly attempting to gentrify” the neighborhood in which I live. Ouch!***