Photo Courtesy of Pretty.Period.

Photo Courtesy of Pretty.Period.

Pretty. Period.” is a trans-media project created as a visual tribute to brown skin. The blog features portraits submitted by women who see themselves as part of the movement, it also includes contributions from photographers all over the world. Doctor Yaba Blay‘s project is a response to the current colorism dialogue, celebrating beauty in every shade. Dr. Blay’s states, “While there is so much to say when it comes to dark-skinned beauty, I really want to focus on the PERIOD in ‘Pretty. Period.’ No explanations. No defense. Just pretty.”

Much conversation has transpired after Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years a Slave: “What it means, and what it should mean. Does Hollywood finally see us? Will Lupita’s success open the mainstream gates for dark-skinned Black women everywhere?” It’s almost impossible not to ask these questions when discussing Lupita’s media attention. When her name is mentioned, so is her dark skin. And while it’s always addressed positively, what’s problematic about the trendy nature of the discussion surrounding Lupita’s skin tone is that trends are fading, and while they do make a come back, the word itself indicates that it is only relevant now.

Lupita Nyongo. Photo Courtesy of

Lupita Nyongo. Photo Courtesy of  Dazed & Confused

While Lupita is praised as a trendsetter, she is not the first woman to sport dark skin and she certainly will not be the last. As Dr. Blay articulates, “I see Lupita every day. I see her as often on the streets of Philadelphia as I do on the streets of Accra. I see her in my classroom. I see her at the corner store. I see her at the mall. I see her everywhere. And so do you. Only you don’t know it. If it took the media’s fixation on Lupita’s otherness to introduce you to the beauty of dark skin, then you don’t know what you’re seeing when you look at dark-skinned women. Or maybe you don’t even see us.”

“Pretty. Period.” highlights beauty in every shade in which it appears. “We Are Midnight Black, Chestnut Brown, Honey Bronzed, Chocolate Covered, Cocoa Dipped, Big Lipped, Big Hipped, Big Breasted, and Beautiful all at the same time.” “Pretty. Period.” reiterates that we are not a trend or an obsession to fetishize or eroticize. We are not attractive because of, or despite our skin tone. We Are not “just Black.” We Are Pretty. Period.

By Toni Akindele

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  1. De-Ann A.

     /  November 11, 2014

    This is a very nice piece. Colorism has created a cycle of self “color” loathing in many black skinned girls. These young women grow up and transfer and perpetuate that self “color” loathing to their daughters, and nieces. Many dark skinned young girls grow up hearing statements like “the pretty one with the light skin and the “nice hair” or “she’s pretty even though she’s black skinned.” This is no wonder why black women are twice less likely to get married than white women. Black men and women are the highest perpetrators of colorism. Colorism is a social construct that is taught and internalized. Structures of oppression and anti-blackness can be seen everywhere including marketing ads, music videos, and more recently dating websites. “Pretty. Period.” is a well needed tool to help young black women and others see that dark skinned women are pretty. period. However, is it enough to build the self esteem and self-love of young dark skinned girls/women whose own families/homes (the main place/people in the world that they should feel loved and accepted) are the ones instilling that anti-blackness? -De-Ann


  2. Natalie Dubovici

     /  November 12, 2014

    I’ve noticed this before I even read this blog that African American women in hollywood or in the spotlight although they are beautiful the media always makes a comment about their skin tone. As I watch/ listen to these commentators I always thought to myself why cant these women just been seen as Beautiful and not defined by they skin color. I hope that as we progress as a society people will see that beauty is not defined by the color of our skin. Like the author of this Blog stated Pretty is Pretty. And thats it.
    – Natalie Dubovici


  3. Christina B.

     /  November 18, 2014

    This post definitely hits home for me. As a dark skinned girl with siblings/cousins of lighter skin tone, it was a constant phrase that was thrown at me from family members. The fact of the matter is, I LOVE my brown skin. I believe self-love begins in the home and helping young black girls realize how beautiful they are without the media’s scrutiny. Every girl is beautiful. Period.

    Great post!



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