“Girl you can’t show up to your own birthday party looking like that!” She exclaimed.
“Looking like what?” I ask.
My nails are done, hair on fleek, I look good, if I do say so myself, so I have no idea what she’s talking about.
“With that skin on? Come on!”
I raise an eyebrow at her. What’s wrong with my skin? Besides the fact that it isn’t glowing the way it would right after a shower or after some good oiling, it looked pretty good to me.
“What’s wrong with my skin?” I probe for some more information.
“Are you kidding? It’s so dark!” Chantelle sounds sincerely concerned and that has me more curious than annoyed at her jabs at my skin.
“Uhm…” I give her a cue to explain further.
She takes the cue.
“You haven’t heard? There are these new nude bodysuits. They look exactly like skin and you can wear clothes over them all quite comfortably.” She explains excitedly.
“So?!” She exclaims. “How do you think Brenda got that perfect complexion on her birthday?”
Wait. Perfect complexion?
“You mean the fact that she was even more white-passing than she normally is? I was wondering what was up with that. I just thought it was the glow of her being so happy because it was her birthday. That was a bodysuit?” My eyes widen in realisation.
“See! Even you can’t deny there was a glow.” Chantelle smacks my arm.
“No. That’s not what I meant. I mean, she did look wonderful on her birthday, but that’s because she was happy, not because she had lighter skin. Happy black women are just beautiful.” I explain.
“Not when we look like Jessica right after she got out of the mud bath.” She replies snarkily.
“Mud bath?” I’m genuinely irritated right now. “Are you implying I look dirty, Chantelle?”
“With that shade of skin you wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference. You have to look glam for your birthday, Ella. Everyone will be there!”
“What, pray tell, is ‘glam’ then?” I ask as calmly as I can.
“Well, it’s anything but…” She gestures to basically all of me. “…this. It just won’t work.” She shrugs. “But if you’re so hell-bent on looking like that, go off, I guess. I, on the other hand, am going to get that bodysuit because my birthday’s just a week after yours.”
Chantelle picks up her phone, unlocks it and stops paying attention to me, leaving me to ruminate over what I’d just heard. It made me wonder how much more of our natural black girl features didn’t count as ‘glam’. It was even more intriguing hearing it from a fellow black girl. Was Chantelle right?
I picked up my phone and started to go through birthday photoshoots of all the prettiest black girls I know on a hunt for how much truth Chantelle had just spoke.