Dark Girls Documentary Review: Missed Potential | Aesthetically Pleasing

Dark Girls Documentary Review: Missed Potential

I am an African American female with medium brown skin. As I was watching the documentary, Dark Girls which premeired last Sunday on Oprah’s OWN network, I realized how generally neutral I was in this #TeamLightSkinned vs #TeamDarkSkinned debate. Being smack in the middle, if I were to claim either side separately, I would be swerved or hit with a “please, you wish.” 

But being a rationally minded advocate for #TeamWe'reAllBlack, I am not and never have been naïve to this shameful issue. And even so, I found this documentary, directed by D. Channsin Berry and Bill Duke, to have lacked insight in many departments. I felt like it simply ‘touched’ on certain serious subjects that deserved way more screen time.

-Left Out a Wealth of Global Experiences

I appreciate the documentaries look into colorism in other cultures such as in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, where this issue is often times much worse. However, it made a failed attempt to highlight this issue in Asian cultures with an out of place anecdote from a Korean American girl who felt out of place in her home country because her sunny LA tan, which- unlike genetics skin pigmentation- a few months in a less temperate region could be reversed.
The directors could have made a bigger statement by speaking with southeast Asians such as Thailand (which they touched on in one man’s travel anecdote for only 2.5 seconds), the Philippines or Vietnam where skin colors come in more of a variety than in East Asia. They would have been even better off looking at India, where colorism and skin bleaching is a HUGE problem and has been for nearly as long as in the Black community especially being that there are plenty of Indians who share the same skin tone or are darker than most African Americans.



-What About Hip Hop and the Media?

Yes, there was an entire section on media, but not enough variety was put into it. Especially considering that in today's age of colorism, it is the main source of this problem. They spent a great deal of time talking about either the well known Beyonce magazine cover skin-lightening controversy or the Obamas but they failed to go in depth on the topic of hip hop, which is unfortunately one of the main perpetrators of colorism.

All it got was a brief mention from a white hip-hop journalist with some awkward B-roll in the background. They could have mentioned Lil Wayne’s disgusting remarks made a few years ago about how he was never going to have any more babies with dark skinned women; they could have discussed how every other song gives a shout out to yellow bones with long hair. On the positive side they could have even mentioned how Kendrick Lamar recently featured a beautiful dark skinned model as the lead in his Poetic Justice video. I could go on for days.

-Did Not Showcase the Modern Epidemic

Now, one of my biggest issues with this documentary, and actually, many race related documentaries these days, is that it didn't shine enough light on the issues related to my generation. I am generally referring to the issues plaguing people born late 80s and on- I myself being a 90s baby. Once again, Yes , they did talk to a few younger men and women but it just hit the surface.
They should have discussed how my generation is obsessed with beauty more so than any other generation- this coming from a blog with a strong beauty emphasis- and how social media has been a platform for us to showcase the impact of our bouts with colorism.
You can easily see by surveying Tumblr dashboards and Instagram feeds that beautiful light skinned females become sensations with follower counts that rival an average D-list celebrity while beautiful darker skinned females rarely get that same overnight celebrity treatment.
We have turned an acceptance and welcoming of the increasingly prevalent interracial relationships, children, and families, into an obsession with ethnicities and idolization of lighter skin and mixed races- one reflected in today’s standards of beauty and the preference of many young black men who are not shy about vocalizing their discontent with black women.  
Everyone sees an exotically beautiful female and wants to know “What are you?” They want to analyze their hair texture, skin color and features to find what other ethnicities contributed to that beauty as if just being black couldn't possibly have created such a thing by itself.   

-Categories Separate Us Even More

While Dark Girls is a very accurate title for the subject matter and a demographic who deserve much recognition on this front, It fuels more division and separation that is already in the community. Especially since there is another edition in the works to highlight the plight of light skinned women that different sources have titled either Yellow Gals or Yellow Brick Road

Each edition is going to uplift one group and somewhat unintentionally shame the other on the way.These terms are just giving us more reasons to go on Facebook and Twitter and rep #TeamDarkSkinned or #TeamLightSkinned. I knew this was a problem after seeing someone I followed on twitter who is light skinned who tweeted something in the likes of now everyone is throwing shade at light skinned girls- and she was entitled to do so. We should approach the issue of colorism by uplifting all shades and varieties. This is not empowering black beauty, its just pitting us against each other.



Overall, this documentary was very well meaning and sparked some much needed conversation within the black community. I feel for the women whose stories were told and for the women not pictured who go through this every day. There is nothing sadder than the fact that with all of the issues Blacks have been through as a people and as individuals in society, we still choose to put ourselves down based on the same standards that got us down in the first place. I know that there was only so much time for the documentary, and this issue could be elaborated on for days but I still think a lot of great points were missed.

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What did you think of the documentary? Did they show the whole story? Is all this talk of dark and light bad for the Black community?
Comment below!
-Anna Son

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