Mental and emotional effects of colorism are often hidden

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As children, we equate self worth with the messages we receive. Darker skin tones, seen as less favorable, often contrast with prejudiced ideals of beauty. (Second of a four-part series on colorism from WebMD)

November 17, 2022 “Out of the Sun Girl, you’re already dark!”

It’s like a razor sharp blade pierces your heart, but the pain is still as overwhelming and overwhelming as the first time. You suddenly wish you were alone, so you can flop into a fetal position, bury your face in your hands, and cry.

But you can’t. People are watching. An eye roll, fake giggle, and a halfhearted “Shut up!” will have to do.

This may sound extremely melodramatic, but countless people of color know exactly how it feels and might even be traumatized again just by reading this all-too-common example colourismor discrimination based on skin color by those within your same racial group.

Colorism is usually expressed by microaggressions and indirect messages about what skin tones are considered “beautiful,” says Josephine Almanzar, PsyD, a licensed psychologist and owner of Oasis Psychological Services. Such comparisons are often a means of getting closer to a “white” person [European] reference point,” she says.

In WebMD’s new docu-series, Color by WebMD, we’ll delve more deeply into the mental health implications of experiencing colorism, often from those closest to you, and how to manage it be able trauma that can come with these encounters.

your core belief

One of the greatest psychological effects of colorism is the damage to one’s “core belief,” says Almanzar. Core belief is built in early childhood and is largely based on interactions and messages about our self-esteem. She uses the example of wearing sunglasses to illustrate her point.

“If our sunglasses are a certain shade, we see the world through that color,” she says. “Children with lighter skin receive certain messages about who they are. So when my skin color is praised, it means, “I’m good by nature. I am worth it. i am lovable I belong.'”

Children with darker skin may receive a separate type of message about their skin color.

“This affects their self-concept or core belief in other ways where they may feel worthless and unlovable, that they don’t belong and that affects their lens and how they see the world,” explains Almanzar.

Because of this violated core belief, emotional stress and symptoms such as depressionHopelessness, loss of motivation, and disinterest in activities may occur.

The ugly relatives of colourism

According to Radhika Parameswaran, PhD, associate dean of The Media School at Indiana University in Bloomington, one of colorism’s counterparts, featurism, can also play a large role in how people of color are treated in their own communities.

“If your features deviate from a ‘European ideal’ you may be seen as less attractive,She says. “Therefore you have eye remodeling surgeries in Japan. All of these cosmetic surgeries help you achieve facial features that are close to the “European ideal.”

According to Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, this harmful ideology has been continuously propagated in many Latino communities.

“A person may have lighter skin, but if they have plump lips or a wide nose, or if they have curly hair or coarse hair, then there’s going to be this cliche, with comments like, ‘Your skin color is beautiful, but look at yours nose,” she says.

Do you have a strategy

While you may not be able to stop someone from treating you differently because of your skin tone or facial features, you can have a plan to offset some of the emotional impact of these encounters.

find one community Who can offer you support write diaryand talking about your story with people you trust are all ways to build your confidence, Almanzar says.

“What is your current core belief about who you are, and what do you want it to look like?” she says. “On an individual level, we can work on building and meeting people beauty standards.”

Next we dive into texturism or discrimination based on hair texture It’s a huge phenomenon in Latino and Black communities. Look for this episode, the third in our four-part series, on December 1st.


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Mental and emotional effects of colorism are often hidden
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