Apparently I’m Cute -- For A "Dark-Skinned" Girl

As if I have to be a certain complexion to be cute. (GTFOH!)
Publish date:
July 30, 2012
shoppables, foundation, makeup, race, dark skin, primer, M

For some reason, men feel comfortable saying the craziest ass things to me.

Case in point: Last week, my 5-year-old nephew randomly told me that I was pretty, but in the same breath turned around and said that he thinks that light skin looks better than dark skin. I was confused and heartbroken to say the least.

Also last week (it was a rough week), I was walking home when I got macked by a delivery guy. I indulged him for a moment, even though I never (ever!) intended to give him my digits. (It just wasn’t going to happen, for a variety of reasons.) His amazing not-so-Oscar-worthy opening line?

“You have a real sexy, distinguished look for a dark-skinned girl. You cute.”

I thought to myself, “What in the actual fuck?!”

Don’t mistake it -- I’ve heard variations of this for most of my life, but the pairing of the words "distinguished" and "dark-skinned" was a first for me. And obviously, a bit of a backhanded gut punch. Whether he meant it that way or not.

I tried to give the wordsmith the benefit of the doubt, even though his supposedly charming remark was deeply rooted in ignorant colorism. defines the word "distinguished" as follows:

dis·tin·guished [dih-sting-gwisht]


1) Made conspicuous by excellence; noted; eminent; famous: a distinguished scholar.

2) Having an air of distinction, dignity, or eminence: a

3) Conspicuous; marked.

Number 1 can’t fit, because I’m not famous. (Maybe Internet famous in my head, but not street famous.) Number 3 could work, because I do stand out (or so I've been told), so we'll assume he was alluding to definition number 2. (Maybe because I was wearing Chanel?) I don’t damn know -- I almost wish I’d given him my number so that I could ask him why he automatically assumes dark-skinned girls aren’t distinguished. I mean, has he ever seen Michelle Obama? Now she’s distinguished, and not because of her skin tone.

When I get up in the morning, I don’t look at my dark skin as a hindrance. Never have, and hopefully I never will. Here's my three-step primping process that lets me hold my head up high and love the dark skin I’m in. Because the one thing that actually does make me feel bad about my skin? Pimples and blemishes.

Step 1) VS PRO Airbrush FX Bronzing Primer, $18 at

Primer smooths over roughly textured skin to create an even, slick layer to apply your foundation on. Plus, it’s essential for those with problematic skin. If it’s dry, it’s an extra dose of moisture. If it’s oily or combination, those created specifically for you act as a barrier between your skin and your foundation, meaning the products won't clog your pores.

With that said, I rely on this particular primer because of the hint of bronzy tint it gives me. I have yet to master the art of highlighting with bronzer (more on that later), so this is an easy shortcut for me. I massage it in with my fingertips -- paying close attention to my temples, cheeks, chin, and down my nose.

Step 2) Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 in Walnut, $46at

I hate it when my makeup looks like makeup, so I’m a fan of foundations that mimic real skin, much like this one. It’s super lightweight, but a little goes a verrrrrrrrrrry long way. (Cost-effective!) I just paint a dollop of it on with a liquid foundation brush, and I’m almost done.

Step 3) e.l.f. Studio High Definition Powder, $6 at

I steer all the way clear of white setting powders. Translucent my ass -- even the lightest dusting looks hella ghostly on me. Plus, this random makeup artist once told me to seek out yellow powders because they’ll better enhance my golden undertones. So glad I listened -- and found one that I love that’s dirt-cheap. In short, this shit is the shit.

One last thing: At the end of the day, I’m a woman of color -- at the farther end of the color spectrum -- and I’m OK with it. I don’t particularly give a fuck what color I am, as long as my complexion is clear. And if you do, you can Chew. This. Ass.

Dark-skinned India-Jewel is kicking ass and taking names over on Twitter at @IndiaJewelJax