I haven’t worn my heart on the sleeve on here in while but today vulnerability is the name of the game. As you probably have noticed, my name has changed here and on most of my social network platforms from ‘zoolschoice’ to ‘nomanoir’ both a play of my full name, Nomazulu. Allow me to explain.
Noir as you know is French for ‘Black’. The name change has absolutely nothing to do with race but the issue of colorism that I personally have had to deal with through out my life. I am one of the deliciously chocolate, darker skinned beauties, #teammelanin !! But for the longest time I did not see my self as beautiful because of the environment I grew up in. The people around me with lighter skin were always seen as prettier. If I had a penny for the number of times somebody said ‘you are pretty for a dark skinned girl …’ I would be a very rich woman 😉 Most of the nicknames I had growing up were centered around my skin colour, I was called things like ‘Mnyamana’ which is Ndebele for ‘the dark one’ and not in a nice way. Another example is ‘Mtshwankela’ which is a dark coloured fruit indigenous to Zimbabwe (very tasty though ) . These were thrown out willy nilly but you can imagine the damage done to a young girl who just wanted to fit in.
I remember about 2 years after I moved to Ireland, a group of friends and I were sitting around just having the chats one evening. One of the girls then turned around to me and said, ‘when I first saw you, I thought what a beautiful girl but God why did you make her so dark like Satan’. At the time I laughed it off but it stayed with me for a very long time, so much so I started researching on how one could artificially alter their skin colour . Thankfully the side effects of what I found scared me off.
It took a lot of reflection and time for me to come to appreciate myself as I am. to realise God did not make a mistake but rather created me in his image, to see myself as more than just my dark skin. As India.Arie said I am not this skin , I am the soul that lives within.
This issue honestly had not bothered or affected me in anyway until a comment somebody flippantly said to me recently. They gave a compliment on an item of clothing I had on, which was followed by pointing out that had I been lighter skinned, it would have looked even better. I trust they meant no harm as they too are a product of their environment, conditioned to believe lighter is always better. I realised unless we speak up to try and change this way of thinking, another dark skinned little girl somewhere will grow up believing she is inferior to her peers, which an absolutely heartbreaking thought.
I decided to take a stand and be proud of this deep chocolate skin of mine, and that is how Noma Noir was born. To my 8 year old self, ‘little girl, your black is beautiful, don’t let them tell you otherwise’!!
Dress – Nobody’s Child
Till next time