I once saw a tweet in which someone said, “Where’s the body positivity movement for dark skinned folks with acne scars?” It is difficult to feel beautiful as a melanated person with acne scars in a world where flawless skin and makeup brands made for people who don’t actually need makeup are praised. Acne scars aren’t cute like freckles. They’re not quirky or marketable. Acne scars are caused when pimples are picked at, pestered with, and popped. When melanin is pinched together, dark clusters are created, causing scarring. These scars are nearly impossible to get rid of. And the more melanin you have, the darker your scars will be. For some reason, in many communities of color skin is a family issue. Aunties and Uncles are known for offering unsolicited solutions at family reunions and cookouts — cocoa butter, shea butter, raw cocoa butter or raw shea butter, aloe — all of which never work quickly enough, or at all.
I’ve had most of my acne scars since I was in high school. They cascade up my cheekbones and speckle my chest and back. I keep telling myself that one day I’ll be pretty, when the shea butter finally works, or when I become wealthy enough to afford laser treatment. But sometimes I think that day might never come. That my scars will stay with me forever. Like the way the word “nigger” stuck with me long after it was plastered onto my body by the lips of White man. Or the way the image of a swastika was imprinted on my brain after one was drawn above a Black student’s door at my university. Sometimes I think these experiences will never heal themselves out of my memory. Much like the acne scars, these invisible scars are a marker of what it means to be a melanated body in the world.
I want dark skinned folks to know that their skin, scars and all, is beautiful. I want us to stop waiting for the day our scars heal, to go outside without foundation or concealer. I want to see folks with acne scars in magazines and on runways. For the scars that we can’t see — the ones that we only talk about behind closed doors and in therapy chairs — I want a positivity movement for those scars too. Such a movement might mean the end of racism itself. At the very least, it’s asking for peace of mind when walking down the street at night. Asking for assurance that when we hold quite literally anything in our hands, our bodies aren’t at risk. Maybe that’s too much to ask. But I’m asking. I’m asking. I’m asking.