I don’t remember when I learned about colorism, but I know it was early on in my childhood. Family members assessed my color in hushed whispers (“she’s getting darker, huh?”) and as I got older and began dating, compliments from the opposite sex always hinged on my skin tone (“You’re a pretty dark-skinned girl”). When your complexion isn’t always celebrated or idealized, you sometimes have to arrive at your own definition of beauty, free from society’s hangups. It’s freeing to learn other beautiful brown-skinned women came to that realization as well, like Kelly Rowland.

The singer opened up to Eurweb about her journey to embrace her complexion:

You know what I had great women in my life to help me overcome that. I remember I went through a period where I didn’t embrace my chocolatiness. I don’t know if that’s a word, but I didn’t embrace my chocolate lifestyle. Just being a chocolate, lovely brown skin girl and being proud of that. I remember being out in the sun and I was trying to shield myself from the sun and [Beyonce's mom Tina Knowles] said, ‘Are you crazy?’ She said ‘You are absolutely gorgeous’ and she just told me how beautiful I was and how rare chocolate is and how gorgeous the skin is, all of this stuff. And I was just like ‘Yeah!’ Like a light went off and so and my mother had me sitting out in the sun a little more, just to be a little more chocolate.

Kelly’s confidence shows and her story is inspiring to women who may be struggling with the same insecurities. With all the messages in the beauty industry and popular culture that may not readily embrace brown skin, it’s important to have role models like Kelly to reinforce the truth that beauty comes in different shades.

Check out the interview here:

What do you think about Kelly Rowland’s comments, Clutchettes?


  • Relle B

    I absolutely love Kelly! She is so beautiful and inspiring. She has such a beautiful soul! I would love to meet her one day!

  • dirtychai

    She is so pretty to me.

  • au napptural

    Kelly is drop dead gorgeous! I’ve always wanted that smooth cocoa skin like her and Lauyrn Hill. I have the cocoa already just gotta get the even part. The sun tans you so unevenly.

  • Keshia

    Kelly is gorgeous woman, I kinda hate post like this though…it makes it seem like every brown or dark skinned woman is insecure in her complexion, which is simply not true.

  • LadyP

    Kelly has the complete package. I must admit, I love her complexion, her size, and her height.

    As far as colorism, I honestly didn’t realize there was a problem until I was in college. While growing up, I was always told I had beautiful skin and a complexion. These comments came with my grandmother being very fair skin, my mother and my sister. I have a brown complexion and absolutely love it. I believe to really appreciate your complexion, it honesty starts at home. We (families) don’t appreciate our different complexions enough. Once we start doing this, we won’t have to leave it in the hands of celebrities, the media or society as much. She is really shinning and her confidence level is soaring.

    Great Advice!

  • Shirl

    Thank you!!! I’ve always loved my skin tone. Black folks are so lucky in that we come in all shades. Who else can say that!!!

  • Keshia

    I have as well I was never insecure or wished to be lighter. Lol if anything I wanted to be darker and more even.

  • Jacquelyn

    Kelly loves her skin, but what about her nose? What was wrong with the original? Same can be asked of other assets, but really, her nose, why did she feel the need to change that?

  • Sylvie

    Yay for other brown girls without color issues!

    I didn’t even know colorism was a thing until college. I may have had issues with marks and blemishes on my skin but the actual color never affected me one way or the other. It’s just my complexion, it’s not good or bad, its just my skin. I like to play it up and accent it because it is MY beautiful brown skin but I’ve never compared it to others or wanted it to be a different color. If it was a different color it wouldn’t be mine.

    And I have never, ever, understood discrimination or praise because of the amount of melanin in your skin. It’s just ridiculous and ridiculously dumb.

  • ArabellaMichaela

    I appreciate her comments. I come from a long line of Southerners where skin tone could literally divide the extended family. I just can’t get with the colorism thing in the black community. I refuse to give white people the satisfaction. I go out of my way to point out to darker complexioned kids especially the ones in my family, how beautiful they actually are. I also have a lot of Senegalese and Sudanese friends. And it is a fact that the men are universally FINE; and the women gorgeous (if a bit chunky)!

  • Jaslene

    I never had any real issues with my skin color but it seems that others did. I didn’t understand why something that was my own and only mine was such a problem for them. I came from a town that seemed to have those issues and then went to a college where it seems some people still do.

  • binks

    Agreed! I always thought she was gorgeous and stood out the most un DC. Kelly is just bad…lol. but I agree we need to celebrate our difference and celebrate all of our brautiful hues early and equally. I can still count how many people dot over light skin kids and gush over them but don’t do it for our babies with medium and darker hues with the same intensity. Conditioning like this happens early and intensify as we grow rspecially with media and soceity and the sad thing is a lot of people are unaware they are conditioned.

  • Cheesy

    This is cool but let’s be really Kelly is Beyonce’s sidekick. And how often is the light skinned chick the sidekick?—hardly ever.

  • omfg

    must have been difficult growing up in a family where the stars are the light-skinned girls, esp when they are beyonce and solange.

    in my family, the light-skinned girls always got the attention and people drooled over them, even when they were stupid and unaccomplished. they were treated well. i mean, just the way people would look at them was different.

    i have a second cousin who is beyonce’s color. she get everything she wants. it’s like she has cast a spell over everyone the way they trip all over themselves to be sweet to her.

  • bornliberian

    i came to the US at age 11, now 39. i have alway loved my brown skin. i honestly did not know there was a brown skin, light skin issue going on until i started reading article on blog such as “clutch.” BTW good for kelly.

  • ChaCha1

    I have not ever had a real issue with my brown skin. I’ve always loved it because my mother used to always talk about how pretty I was and how she loved my red skin (I’m brown but I have a reddish hue behind it). I did have an issue with the way I looked, but it was just me wanting to resemble her more than my dad. I always had random people asking if I was her child and they’d comment on how much darker I was than her and my sister (they are very light skinned), which was rude. I wanted to fit in with them, but at the same time I did not have an issue with my skin itself.

  • RJ

    @Keisha you have a point but we must understand that Kelly Rowland is operating in the world of the white mainstream. Since Beyonce made a mad dash for the beauty finish line using white standards (Blond hair and possible skin bleaching), this is the standard that Kelly is compared to and she knows that she is not getting the spotlight because of that.

    Dark skinned woman (whatever we think that is) will not feel it as much because we are not operating under that particular microscope.

  • LadyP

    Your last statement is so true. I really believe they are unaware…

    Just sad all over!

  • Cheesy

    Yeah Tina taught her how to love herself,beyonce taught her how to be a woman and Matthew taught her everything else,if it wasn’t for the knowles,Kelly would live under a bridge.

  • Joy

    ZZZZZZZZz, Snooore!! This is an old story. I get so tired of the light skin, dark skin commentary. We are who we are. Although there are always exceptions to the rule “Most” people are comfortable with their skin color

  • beanbean

    I feel bad for Kelly, but I’m happy that she’s learned to love her color. Until I was 16 (seriously) I didn’t even know about colorism, perhaps I didn’t care enough to even let it bother me. Color is not an issue in my family, my grandma is Paula Patton’s color and grandpa is Wesley Snipes. Unfortunately my family has an obsession with “good hair.” That’s a whole another topic.

  • Amina

    Reading Clutch for many years and noticing the reactions that articles discussing the issue of colorism have gotten, it has always amazed me that quite a few of the readers on here seem to not only insist but are bothered by the idea that it’s not an issue at all in our community and that it doesn’t have a terrible effect on young boys and girls (who am I kidding though, I remember some of the backlash that “Dark Girls” got on here a couple of years ago).

    It’s taken me many years to finally get comfortable in the skin I’m in and that’s only in part because I had to go out of my way to find women that looked like me in the media. When the Williams sisters came out on the tennis circuit all those years ago I’d never been so happy, I’d also never been so disgusted when I’d hear comments coming from black boys that I went to school with that would refer them as “gorillas” or “ugly”.

    Just last year when I was still attending college and dared to wear red lipstick to a black-oriented support services center that was a part of the college, I had a black man who fancied himself as afrocentric insist that I looked like Aunt Jamima and that I should never wear red lipstick again.

    For those who didn’t have misfortune to be swayed by the whitewashing of the entertainment industry and grew up without any color complexes and loving their dark skin, I’m honesty happy for you, but why dismiss the truth that others were not so lucky?.

    While it’s upsetting that certain areas of the media have taking it upon themselves to dissect “all that’s wrong with black women” it don’t mean that sweeping an issue under the rug and pretending that it don’t exist means it’ll go away.

    I’m happy that Kelly found a point in her life that she learned to love her “chocolatiness” and isn’t afraid to speak about that period of it where she wasn’t.

  • londonwhoopee

    Funny that she is donning artificial [extended] hair though. Perhaps she needs to learn to embrace her natural Afro hair too. Let’s our women learn to emancipate themselves from mental slavery.

  • Nic

    Probably for the same reasons Beyonce and Tina Knowles changed theirs…


    Kelly Rowland is much more attractive than Beyonce and her beautiful brown skin is just about perfect… I know some brown skin, Black people who claim that they’re White… They are so ignorant and hate themselves so much that they’ll look you in the eye and with total honesty claim that they’re White… When Black people claim that they’re White, are they suggesting that they’re superior to melaninated people who love themselves ??? Its been 150 years since slavery ended along with the house Negro/field Negro mentality… How is it possible that some Black people are still brainwashed and hating on themselves ??? Black Europocentric Christians expose their self hatred when they love and worship White people…

  • tee

    LOL! Was she adopted by the Knowles? *hides face*

  • Kina

    It’s an Afro textured weave….thus identical to the actions taken by other races when they either want to add volume or length. She is embracing “Afro hair”.

  • chanela17

    exactly. that’s what kills me about celebrities preaching about confidence and being comfortable in the skin you’re in…. meanwhile they risk their lives for unnecessary surgeries to change who they are.. if you’re gonna get surgery then fine, whatever, but don’t sit around and try to talk about confidence when it’s obvious that you lack it.

  • londonwhoopee

    Sorry Kina,but there is nothing Afro about that weave/wig/horsehair/synthetic rubbish. Our women folk especially ones in the media spotlight need to lead by example. There is nothing wrong about [and] with our features as people of African descent.

  • arlette81

    Black people can be their own worst enemies and it has got to change. I know people are fed up of the light skin vs dark skin debate and i get that but its not right that kids are taught that they are nothing less than perfect from the minute they are born. Comments like “oh you are cute for a dark skin girl” or if only you were lighter” or “you are not even black, you are too light” does a lot to a girls self confidence. I also think that people who do express these opinions sometimes to it without any intention to hurt someone and a lot of the “proud to be black, black is beautiful” people say these things, like my mum.

  • Dalili

    I hear you @Amina! I think part of the dimissal
    I’d imagine that’s what gave birth to the #teamlightskinned and #darkskinned maddness on twitter.

    Like you it took me years to finally embrace my skin tone. and truly love the vessel by which my soul travels. I’m so glad you did. I know what a struggle that can be. :-)

  • Keshia

    I certainly was not trying to dismiss Kelly or any other woman’s struggle with their self image or self esteem. What I was saying why is eveytime a brown or dark skinned woman I speaking on her image it has to do with “learning” to love her color? Why can’t she already love it and know its beautiful the way it is? Like I said before not every brown girl is struggling with a skin color complex, myself included.

  • CCN

    She addressed embracing her skin tone, but not her original nose?

  • Dalili

    Oh dear, multitasking isn’t my strong suit today. My apologies for my previous bungled message. What I meant to say is sometimes the dismissal can stem from people in general and some women in particular not understanding the insidious effect colourism can have on one’s psyche.

    For some of us it is about learning to love our skin colour. This is particularly true if one grew up hearing all sorts of negative messages about dark skin as I did..

    I didn’t mean to sound accusatory. I say good on you for all the brown skin women who are and have been forever comfortable in their skin. That’s wonderful! It is however great to hear of the stories of women who have gotten a hang of loving the skin they are in because I can relate.

  • Kina

    Lol you preaching to the wrong person…my hair is 100% natural. Black woman like all other woman should be free to do what they want with their hair. That is equality. Yes I agree there needs to be more natural woman in the Media but there also needs to be a variety, including weaves, if you really want to represent all black woman.

  • ScandalHooked (@scandalhooked)

    I had the same exact issue. I even had a history teacher ask my mom How come you are so light and she is so dark. My mother was so angry, she said dont you ever speak of my child like that again, Are you stupid? dont you know anything about biology? I was thinking you go mommy because I has despised that teacher because she was so blatantly prejudiced and against her own skin color as she was just as dark as I was

  • Nik

    @Kesha I agree…it seems like in order for an interview w a brwn skin “person” to be relevant abt their skin tone they always have to talk abt how they learned to embrace it…Im sorry but all brwn women do not have this epiphany….

  • athirdandahalf

    “…if a bit chunky”. So you’re encouraging people to accept their skin tone as is, but you’re making an exception to beauty because a woman is “a bit chunky”?

    Way to revile one of society’s BS messages while playing right into another.

  • apple

    thats a more “brazillian/malasyian” version of wet n wavy weave though

  • Sandy

    @ ArabellaMichaela: I agree with the first portion of your comment but disagree with the last portion. Reading your statement as a West African woman, I see a lot of stereotyping of Senegalese & Sudanese people. Senegalese & Sudanese men & women come in different shapes, sizes & colors- attractive & ordinary looking (not all their men are ‘universally FINE’), fat & thin (not all the women are ‘a bit chunky’), light skinned & dark skinned (they’re not all dark skinned like you seem to imply). It seems like you’re ‘exoticizing’ them & I’m sure you’re equally displeased when people of other races exoticize your race & make statements implying that all black men are ‘athletic’ and ‘strong’ or most black women are fat.

  • Kay

    I didn’t need to learn to embrace my skin tone because I already did. I am the darkest in my family. I didn’t learn of the negativity of tone differences until public school. Where people would ask me if I was adopted because I had significantly darker skin than that of my siblings. But because of the overwhelming positive presence that I got from my home and family, I paid those comments no mind.

  • happygirl

    For those who stated they never had a color complex, that is awesome. Perhaps you grew up in a community or environment that didn’t distinguish you by your complexion. I’m around the same age as Kelly Rowland and in our day being told you’re pretty to be dark was the norm. It was detrimental to your self esteem. I was always referred to by my complexion. It didn’t help that both my best friends were very light and so was my mother and sister. So yes it was hard being “chocolate” growing up in the 90′s. But as I became an adult I changed my opinion on beauty and I started to see my beauty.


    In whose world does Kelly Rowland have “dark skin”? Why in 2013 are we still so divided by what slave masters did to us hundreds of years ago no matter what our skin tone is? Please stop the madness!

  • londonwhoopee

    I couldn’t agree more. The sad thing is tha this ‘shadism’ [as we sometimes call it in Britain] is quite pervasisve in the African and African-descendant communities: whether in Africa, The Caribbean, The Americas etc. Our people manifest this inferiority complex.

  • Crystal Colon

    Beyonce is NOT light skinned. Her complexion is caramel colored but she is certainly not ‘fair’ by any stretch of the imagination

  • Marsha

    Thank you…..That was definitely my feeling when I read the article.

  • Ree

    Seriously? I’m light skinned enough that people mistakenly think I’m bi-racial, and I WISH I looked like Kelly Rowland.I don’t know what other types of problems or issues may be in her life, but her LOOKS sure as heck isn’t one of them. And YES, she is prettier than Beyonce. My opinion, so I won’t get into an argument if anyone disagrees. Kelly Rowland is spectacularly gorgeous!!!

  • pomerac2013

    Kelly Rowland is not from the age group where skin shade was an issue. She is young…. That issue of dark skin or lighter skin was prevalent decades before she was even born. I am not buying her ridiculous story. Come up with something else Kelly…and make sure it doesn’t involve your usual forced crying. Enough already.


    I agree! The main negativity i think people receive about their skin is from society and media. The media influences people’s perception of reality unfortunately. I had strong family upbringing that taught me to be proud of myself. Unfortunately many black families are not this way, the child will come home to family who neither reinforces their child to love being black, or ignores the issue altogether, which creates a reoccurring cycle of self-hatred


    You do realize that racism against blacks in USA hasn’t ended right? You’re questions sound ignorant, I’m hoping that it’s rhetorical in nature?

  • Ohsofash

    Lol are you actually for real the light/skin dark skin issue is definately still around today I’m a 16yr old girl and have received Alot of stick because of my darkskin so you’re comment is quite ridiculous. It’s unfair to judge other people’s motives if you’ve never experienced or know nothing on the matter

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