The stigma of colorism has negatively impacted the self-esteem of many young Black girls and women. Studies show that dark-skinned women do not fit into society’s notion of beauty; a conflict often related to the lingering effects of slavery and colonialism.
Shay Monét, a St. Louis model, actress and entrepreneur known as Darkkskinshay, is combating colorism in the Black community by promoting self-love and confidence through visual representation.
“In everything I do I represent a Black woman, and am a face of dark-skinned women who often are still thrown under the bus and sometimes from our own people,” Monét exclaimed.“Colorism is real and oftentimes people aren’t even aware they participate in it. The standard of beauty for so long didn’t even depict darker skinned women. Because of this, we don’t see enough chocolate faces in the world in a positive light and I wanted to change that narrative.”
Monét realized the urgency of addressing colorism when her peers expressed judgment about her features based solely on her dark complexion. She also recognized the marginalization of Black and brown girls with darker skin in mainstream media.
In 2020, Monét decided to take matters into her own hands and launched an enamel pin line to help circulate more visuals of Black women in luxury, love and beauty. Leveraging her fashion and artistic expertise, the enamel pins sold on her website have been designed to encourage community engagement and visual empowerment.
“Through my pin line, I try to regulate the beauty in darker skin so it’s not obscene or uncommon, so that people can understand and see too,” said Monét. “Pins are the perfect accessory because you can put them anywhere, and I believe the representation of Black women should be everywhere. But it’s more than just pins.”
This year, Monét plans to highlight stories of how others have overcome colorism and other conflicts in the Black community on her blog to help propel her message and connect readers to similar resources.
“If we can start the conversations…the dream can be pushed. You can‘t do it all on your own, and I wouldn’t try,” said Monét.
Colorism has become a distinct source to common adolescent issues like low self-esteem, poor anger management, depression or self-destructive behaviors. By acknowledging the effects of colorism and creating positive conversations through public awareness, this form of bias can be overcome.
Monét believes the best way to combat colorism outside of educating others is finding confidence in self.
“This push is to highlight but also inspire all women of color to see themselves in the world so that they may be confident,” said Monét. “Accept yourself. There will be so many things in the world that will attempt to make you feel less than. Find your strengths. Know that it will always be more difficult, but the outcome of you working for exactly what you want is so worth it.”
To view the pin collection, visit www.darkkskinshay.com/.