, Standards of Black BeautySound Off: Discuss the “Dark Girls” Documentary

Sound Off: Discuss the “Dark Girls” Documentary

Now, I totally missed the documentary, so I’m wholly unable to contribute my own thoughts and feelings… and I originally blogged in anticipation of this a while back, which was met with many of y’all sharing your stories of colorism and the traumas you might’ve experienced because of it. In fact, I learned more about colorism through this blog than I did in the first twenty-sneeze-years of my life.

"Dark Girls" documentary on OWN

“Dark Girls” documentary on OWN

That being said, I’m seeing some real concerning commentary on the documentary, so I’d love to know your thoughts. What did it do well? What did it leave out? What stood out, frustrated, drew tears for you? Where do you think viewers should go from here?

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By | 2017-06-10T11:45:01+00:00 June 24th, 2013|Beauty, Standards of Black Beauty|17 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.


  1. LA Red June 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM - Reply

    I am interested in everyone’s view especially after reading what was on Twitter.

  2. Gail June 24, 2013 at 1:35 PM - Reply

    I watched the first 20 minutes. Then I turned it off and went to bed. I don’t know why. If I figure it out, I will come back and express my thoughts.

  3. BrownBunny03 June 24, 2013 at 7:30 PM - Reply

    I’m a woman with a darker hue and I know I’m beautiful with question or validation from ANYBODY. It has always irked me that some folks (mostly our own) catagorize being light-skinned as automatically being more attractive. I’ve seen some light-skinned chicks that are straight busted! I dont need some n*gga that I dont know to validate if he thinks I’m wife material or not just because I’m not high yellow. Another thing I’ve noticed is half of the men that say those things are not that attractive either! Besides, why would you allow someone elses ignorant opinion affect your happiness and the way you live your life? I don’t allow ANYONE to make me feel less than what I am.

  4. Jame (@jameane) June 24, 2013 at 9:29 PM - Reply

    I was excited about this because I contributed to the Indiegogo project, and I wasn’t able to go see it when it premiered in my city.

    I think Tika Sumpter’s comments sum up my own thoughts quite well. 🙂


    I wanted to see more people who didn’t have negative experiences, or were unaware untl later (I didn’t know until I moved to the South)

    I wanted a deeper conversation. Colorism isn’t a black problem. It is a south asian problem, and east asian problem, a latin american problem, a Mexican problem and so on.

    I really wanted someone to go unpack that issue that all “ethnic” women seem to have this problem, and work on some suggestions on combatting the nonsense. It is really stupid to all of us women of “color” are taught that you really can be too colorful…..and tries to diminish our shine.

    I was expecting a little less narrative and a lot more analysis.

    There are a lot of Dark Girl experiences that just weren’t addressed.

    • ebony campbell June 30, 2013 at 1:20 AM - Reply

      I agree, I wanted to see a more positive view from darker toned women as well. I am a very dark african american woman and I never really went through any thing that stopped me or traumitized me due to my skin tone. I really would have likes to see a variety of stories instead of just ones from a negative standpoint.

  5. Mochamajesty June 25, 2013 at 3:40 AM - Reply

    The documentary was, in a word, ignorant.
    They focused more on the opinions of men than hearing the stories of women who actually “suffer” due to their skin color.

    I would have loved to hear more from Viola Davis. I would have loved more focus on solutions rather than the uneducated, ignorant opinions of Pookie and dem.

    And they could have left out the white men’s opinions entirely. Instead of focusing on the way that white people actually contribute to colorism, it’s almost as if the mockumentary were touting white men as our saviors, because “hey, your our men don’t want you.”

    I am disappointed (can’t you tell)? I would love to see Melissa Harris Perry do a panel on this.

    • dominique June 27, 2013 at 10:57 AM - Reply

      I saw the promo and was very turned off. I have to agree with the respondent who called it a mock-umentary, very much like Chris Rock’s piece on black hair. Skin color, the hair issue, the single woman’s issue get airtime when the space is used for further criticism, self-victimization, and mockery (i.e. handled by comedians).

  6. AyanaM June 25, 2013 at 3:48 PM - Reply

    I’m glad there is at least…dialogue out there regarding this documentary. I was really excited to watch and then pretty disappointed. It focused way too much on the melodrama and shock value around colorism for my personal taste BUT I was also educated. I appreciated the perspectives from the Korean and Latin women that I thought did expand this beyond our American borders. I was outright pained by the suffering of some of those profiles- I mean, it’s someones skin color- not their value as a human. I was annoyed with many of the men’s opinions (that strayed towards wholesale ignoranance) and the villianzation (is that a word?) of light skinned black people. Skin color cannot be helped- we are born to it. I am medium brown so colorism is not my issue but I inserted “overweight” into the dialogue on a few occasions and my empathy was right there with these women. Although being a “dark girl” not my experience, being a “fat girl” is not so far off. Either way, I thought it provoked discussion and thought- which is what a good documentary should do.

  7. Jayde June 25, 2013 at 5:33 PM - Reply

    I was not moved by this documentary. First off, Tyra Banks covered this some years ago but I am not saying that Oprah does not have the right to cover it as well. I was just…not feeling it. Instead of basing it on skin color, she should of talked about self esteem within BLACK WOMEN. We can change things such as that but to pin point on Skin color?! Oh no mam. I never had an issue with my skin color nor what others though of it. Also, I am a black women that love men from any ethnicity. As a human being, its our attitude that brings and pulls people away not the way we look ( most of the time). That little stereotype about all black women are mean and bitter…. I’m still waiting on someone to clear that up for us publicly.

    Great post Miss Erica!

  8. Tiffany June 26, 2013 at 8:50 PM - Reply

    I like the documentary, mind you I also have a degree in sociology so I’ve ALWAYS been interested in society and their interactions. I didn’t know that colorism existed until….high school probably. I’m brown skin(think black coffee with a few splashes of milk) and my father is dark chocolate, my mom, her mom and aunt(basically my mom’s whole family) is..vanilla. I remember watching this documentary and thinking about stories I’ve heard from my relatives about families who would…inbreed to keep “the light skinned trait” in the family..actually people just speculate that’s what they do, they may just seek out fair skinned people, but they subscribe to the brown paper bag theory is my point. I’ve always thought it was just a black thing, but it hit me when I watched this how most cultures do it. Hispanics, even Asians. I thought it was so sad when the young woman said she went to Korea and how almost every beauty product contains a lightening agent. I’ve even heard stuff on the radio about women being forbidden from eating chocolate because they were told it will darken their skin. I mean this is so silly. There were some parts of the documentary that made me cringe, such as when they interviewed lil Pookie from round da corner and he said that he wants a woman “light skinned, long hair, don’t care…” contrast this with the white male hip hop author who found it interesting how all of the rappers talk about how proud they are of their blackness but have 0 dark skinned women in their video, all light skinned women or white women. It’s really…sad to say the least. It’s 2013, and I can probably count on 1 hand the number of hip hop videos I’ve seen this year with a dark skinned woman as the love interest. Most of those are Kendrick Lamar videos…one artist out of the many. We need to change.

  9. kjen nu June 27, 2013 at 1:02 AM - Reply

    I walked away from the doc not having learned any thing new. It was the basic, generic “slavery+Black people+current issue under discussion+modern times=why colored people are so screwed up now” type of piece.

    Really wish, they would have added other impacts of colorism in particular the economics of it. (check out “The Color Complex” by Kathy Russell)

    ***Considering the relative scarcity of darker women in the media, it saddened me to realize that so many dark women had been ‘brought together’ to discuss how ugly they felt.

  10. Vivian June 27, 2013 at 10:10 AM - Reply

    I was amazed at how many black women hated their color! I called my mother after watching this, to thank her for not allowing this to be in issue in my life. I have always LOVED my dark skin and purposely lay out in the sun (with sunblock of course) to work on my “brown”. I was disappointed because some of the brothers seemed to think it was a joke. I think they should have included corporate america (not just the record store owner) to see how skin tone effects climbing the corporate ladder. I’m glad to see the issue being addressed though since so many women seem to be affected by it.

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