This week over at Figs & Cocoa Facebook Group, the theme I wanted to address that was very important to me was “Melanin”.
As a publication sharing people of color, we hope to represent cultures and backgrounds that are underrepresented when showcased on the wide web through online and print publications. Black families, Indian families, Korean, South Asian—we represent it all. The motto that “Representation Matters” resonates strongly with us and one we hope to change as we grow. We want it to be normal for a family of color to relate and see themselves when they search for professional work. That the world ‘family photography’ is not simply washed out to one genre or one look, but a wide spectrum of beautiful backgrounds that represent the world.
This week, I wanted to focus on ‘melanin’ and my story of how Figs & Cocoa came to be. You can read about it a little in the group if you’re interested in joining! As the Editor and Founder, I have always grown up a girl with “dark skin”. I grew up being told that my dark skin was much too dark to be black by people of my own race. It was a struggle growing up because the narrative of fair skin being beautiful was pushed on the youth, including my generation. I grew up trying to find ways to lighten my skin and perhaps be just as pretty, but it was never to be. It was not until my adult years that I realized that my skin was BEAUTIFUL. Dark, rich, unblemished and a product of heaven. How sad that it took me years to realize this and I know there was a multitude of reasons. But I blame some part of media for it because dark skin was just seen as ugly. I didn’t deserve to grow up and be called “darkie”, “midnight”, and a number of other hurtful names. Then again, Midnight is a lovely nickname and I now proudly wear it.
Now that I am old enough to make a difference in this world, I want future generations to know that their skin is not ugly but beautiful. No matter how dark or how light you might be, the melanin in your skin is not a curse but a blessing. Take pride in your beautiful skin. From the rich and dark to the light and the fair. All complexions are beautiful no matter where. I wanted to celebrate the gorgeous beauty in our melanin skins. Because for so long media looked at it as ugly and unwanted. Why? Dark is beautiful. Dark is rich. Dark is as mesmerizing as a color as any other skin.
I want the world to celebrate this fact and asked the community to share with me their ‘melanin’. They did not disappoint at all and the group was filled with beautiful images.
There were so many other images shared this week which made my heart beat and smile with pride. I can’t say it enough how important it is for the world to see. My message might not be major and so far this small start might be small. Yet as we grow, I hope to change the way media looks at portraiture when featured or shared on social media, magazines, and even Instagram. That a hashtag or a cover shows us for what we really are. I want a place where finally we can see ourselves and know that we are beautiful. That our families are beautiful That our children are beautiful. That our dark skin, brown skin, and light skin shades are beautiful.
We are melanin. And we are beautiful.