For Teen Vogue, by Jessica C. Andrews.
Colorism is a real and prevalent issue that impacts darker-skinned people across the globe. Conventional beauty standards favor light skin, perpetuating the myth that dark skin is undesirable. Many women with deeper complexions, no matter their age, have heard the phrase "pretty for a dark-skinned girl." Light-skinned women can feel isolated and attacked because of their skin tone, and many recount being called "white girl," "see-through," or worse. The effects of colorism go well beyond insults and back-handed compliments. When dark-skinned people use bleaching creams that are linked to cancer -- a dangerous phenomenon in certain countries -- they're literally shaving years off their lives to lighten their skin. "The Colored Girl" Project (TCG) aims to redefine beauty for black women of every skin tone. Photographed by Joey Rosado, the first campaign of the TCG series features 10 stunning women, hand-picked from social media, donning gowns, dresses, shorts, and even sheer tights in varying shades of blush and brown.
Through the project, TCG founder Tori Elizabeth hopes to convey the breadth of black beauty. "I started the 'The Colored Girl' Project because I wanted to show the different aspects of beauty as it pertains to Black women," she told Essence. "I wanted to highlight and celebrate our unique beauty: our eyes, our lips, our cheekbones. I wanted women from different social and cultural backgrounds. I wanted women with angular eyes, women with freckles and fair skin, and women with really rich, ebony skin. It's so important to be proud of who we are and showcase the beauty of blackness."
Victory Jones, who co-founded the project, knows the sting of colorism all too well. "[It] is a strange phenomenon," she shared with Essence. "It's weird to be made to feel like you're less than for something that you can't help -- it sucks. And, when it happens when you're little it's horrible because it scars you. You want to forget it, but it's indelibly engrained in your brain even if you suppress it. It informs choices that you make in the future. I think I'm still overcoming experiences with colorism. You get to a point when you realize that who you are matters more than how you look, but there is still a strength that I have specifically because I live in this skin."
The project is already picking up steam on social media. With each stunning image shared, the message is abundantly clear: black women are beautiful in every shade.
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