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This story was written by Ly Phuong from VIETNAM.

I am Phuong and I come from Vietnam. I have dark skin and I am growing up in a society where lighter skin is considered to be the standard of beauty. I used to become miserable about my skin color. But now, I love my skin more than anything because I no longer allow other people to tell me what to think about my skin. 

I write this story for myself as well as for all the girls out there who are struggling with the color of their skins. 

Girls, believe me, you have no single reason to believe what other people say about your skin color. You are beautiful in your way, so be confident about yourself and keep your head up.  

It is all about how you think of yourself. I love my skin color!

Many societies have put a link between the beauty of a woman and her skin color. In my country, Vietnam, people like pale skin and they show more affection and favor toward lighter-skin individuals. Vietnamese people often associate lighter skin with wealth, tidiness and beauty. They consider people with lighter skin to be more attractive. On the other hand, darker skinned girls are thought to be less pretty and do not receive as much attention, admiration and love as girls with lighter skin.

Many societies have put a link between the beauty of a woman and her skin color.

I am twenty years old and I am a young girl with darker skin than many Vietnamese people. My life with dark skin is not very easy as I have to listen to all the different things that people tell me about my skin color.

When I was small, my aunt told me that I was not born by my parents because my skin color was darker than theirs. I got so upset at that time that I even asked my parents and others for the confirmation of my origin. Since that moment, I have noticed that the color of my skin has concerned other people and they do not seem to like my dark skin.

Another incident happened when I got transferred to a new school. I came to class and met a lot of new friends. Everything went well except for one problem: some of my classmates made fun of me for my skin color. I was called ‘Black Phuong’ every time they saw me and this name followed me for the whole time I was in elementary school. I did not like that name and I would not let them call me using that word. I kept on with my fight, I told their parents and I went to my teacher and their parents for help but none of these attempts worked out. I was exhausted. I stopped fighting and I accepted that I was black and ugly.

I did not like that name and I would not let them call me using that word.

The most common thing that I heard during my childhood was that if I had had a lighter skin color, I would have looked more beautiful and I might have become a very attractive girl. It was because of my skin that I became ugly in their eyes.

Even now, my skin is still the very first thing people notice about me. I have been hearing a huge number of comments from other people about my skin color. They would say something like “Oh Phuong, your skin looks darker than the last time I saw you. Remember to take care of your skin.”

Growing up in an environment that valued pale skin color, I lacked confidence and pride in my appearance. I stopped believing that I was pretty and I lost my confidence in standing in front of others. I was miserable from other people’s comments and drowned in them.

However, when I came to university, I met a lot of people’s efforts to find out who they were regardless of prejudice, stereotype of society. I started to question myself. I keep thinking about why I should care about what other people tell me. Why I should become miserable just because of what people think about me. I am who I am and I do not want others to define or judge me.

I have a chance to challenge my identity and to define my own meaning of beauty. After a lot of thought, I started to believe in the beauty of myself. I am black. I love it. I am standing out as a young beautiful person in my own way. The colour of my skin cannot make me feel upset anymore.

I have a chance to challenge my identity and to define my own meaning of beauty.

No one can set any standard on beauty, for one definition will differ from that of other people. There is no such thing that this person is prettier than the others. Everyone is different and it would be unfair to use the same standard of one group for the whole of society. I think everyone is beautiful in their own way and everyone has the right to be proud of their own beauty, regardless of what color their skin is.

If people around us tell us what beauty is and that we are not beautiful, please do not believe in what they say.

On the way to beautify ourselves, one thing to bear in mind is that if we do not allow others to manipulate our feelings, no one can do anything to harm our identities and prides.

Now, I am happy to tell the world that I love my skin. I am proud of it. I love my skin color and everything I have, and you should too.

This story was part of Safety First for Girls (SAFIGIs) #SharingNotShaming campaign.

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