Colorism is a global phenomena rooted in white hegemonic arbitrary beauty standards that perpetuate the preference for lighter skin. In the age of social media sisters have clapped back. Boldly. Loudly. Unapologetically. Black women are proactively centering their own image and likeness in creative messaging to the media, peers, and family in the form of #HueHashtags. #HueHastags represent the growing collection of hashtags coined by Black women to define beauty and womanhood on their own terms and to affirm all that is magical about Black women. Hassan (2018) asserts that social media hashtags often act as sites of resistance for Black women to counter colorism and serve as a way for Black women, dark skinned women in particular, to begin to heal in online spaces. Hashtags that trend with a particular emphasis on celebrating melanin rich skin give insight into how girls and women of African descent use social media to counteract colorism.
Colorism is so ugly that mainstream media will celebrate the beauty of a dark skin actress like actress Lupita Nygong as if they are rare beauties and ignore the everyday lived experiences of Black women who are often told they are “pretty for a dark skin girl,” thus Dr. Yaba Blay rightly declares on her facebook page that we are #PrettyPeriod. Colorism is so cruel even children are not immune from being the unfortunate target of bullying and microaggressions about their skin tones. Young student Kheris Rogers, with the help of her sister, for example, started an antibullying campaign via her fashion t-shirt line, posting a picture and the caption #FlexinMyComplexion after being builled for her dark skin by her classmates at a predominately white-populated school (Branigin, 2018). Rogers has since garnered modeling opportunities and a popular instragram account (see. Colorism is so divisive that Stephanie Lahart reminds us to not focus on #TeamLightSkin, or #TeamDarkSkin, but to acknowledge that in every shade, we are Black women and therefore we have #MelaninPoppin. Hashtags that make references to melanin rich pigments are popular on social media and are used to celebrate, unite, validate, and redefine Black beauty as well as counter misconceptions about us.
In the context of a digital age, when we take a closer look at the #HueHashtags that seem to focus on advocating against colorism in and outside of Black communities, we notice a particular agency that is both powerful and complex. The power of Black women’s voices is amplified in online spaces when we state love for ourselves, each other, and our beautiful skin tones despite dominate culture standards. Exclaiming #MyBlackisBeautiful is important, and the creation of #HueHashtags by Black women brings attention to the complex ways colorism invades our lives in real or imagined spaces – that is if we allow it. When Black women boldly post about Black beauty, and especially emphasize the beauty of dark skin, it suggests society is still wrestling with the notions of colorism. Yet the creative use of #HueHashtags also serves notice to everyone in the world of the resilient, revolutionary, innovative agency of Black people. It matters when we love ourselves fiercely.
Blay, Y. Pretty.Period. [Facebook Update] Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/prettybrownperiod/
Branigin, A. (2018). Those Flexin In My Complexion Shirt You’ve Been Seeing Everywhere? An 11-Year-Old Did That. Retrieved from https://theglowup.theroot.com/those-flexin-in-my-complexion-shirts-youve-been-seeing-1827693451
Hassan, Ololade S., "#Melanin: How Have Dark-skinned Black Women Engaged In Social Media Hashtags To Affirm, Validate and Celebrate Their Beauty?." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2018. https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/aas_theses/54
Lahart, Stephanie (Monday July 22, 2019). Brown Skin Girl Challenge [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://1lahartstephanie.blogspot.com/
Rogers, Kheris (2019) kherispoppin [Instagram]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/kherispoppin/?hl=en