Here at MEDIAGIRLS we’ve been cheering on Laureen Chalumeau, founder of @usdarkskins, since we first heard about her Instagram feed in 2016. We coined the name #realmediagirl for girls who use their social media to speak up for what they believe in, be authentic, and lift up other girls. Laureen is the ultimate #realmediagirl, and we were thrilled to finally talk to her about her work and what inspired to start @usdarkskins. Enjoy her post below and follow this awesome young woman on Instagram!
In 2015, I was looking through my favorite social media pages of “beautiful people.” I loved looking at these pages and being inspired by these people. I wanted to be, look, and feel beautiful like these pages had endorsed. However, as time proceeded, I started to realize a certain trend: no one looked like me. Very few people were of thicker figure; more importantly, almost none were of darker complexion. I found this odd because I knew many beautiful dark-skinned men, women, and children on and offline. Why were they not being showcased on these pages? Were people of darker complexions not submitting to these pages? What was the issue? After this realization, I no longer received joy from those platforms. Rather than being down and complain about the way social media is structured, I decided to find my own solution. With that in mind, I created the “Us Darkskins” Instagram page.
The moment I knew this could be big
Us Darkskins mission is to promote self-love and confidence in people of darker skin, discourage skin bleaching, and challenge colorism. It first started by posting pictures of my friends and people in my community. It has since then progressed to strangers and anybody and everybody of dark complexion. I did not really understand the impact I would have on people initially. As the page grew, I saw the self-love building within the people I posted. These people were starting to feel more confident, comfortable, and more courageous in their own skin. A woman had messaged me one day; “I don’t know who you are, but I’m 32 and I cried when I saw [Us Darkskins]. I am dark-skinned … I’ve always heard negative things about my skin tone. To see this makes me so happy because somewhere in the world a young girl who looks like me will see this and know her black is beautiful.” It is testimonies like these that fuel the page and me. I knew from that moment forward, this movement must be something big, something impactful.
Us Darkskins has not only changed the lives of others but mine as well. I have been presented with many amazing opportunities to expand my knowledge on the topics colorism, skin bleaching, and self-love. The creation of Us Darkskins has allowed me to become more passionate about exploring these realms. It has helped me grow as an individual as well. Not only has my mind grown, but also the love for myself. I am more aware of who am and the role I play in society. Running a social platform like this has made me realize that the fulfillment of life is very important to me. I am a change agent and I shall continue to be the change I seek to be in the world.
We have a long way to go
Although there has been tremendous growth for Us Darkskins over the years, we have a long way to go. For the future of Us Darkskins, I hope for the platform to have a prominent voice against skin bleaching and colorism. Skin bleaching is a major industry that destroys lives and fuels colorism. I would like Us Darkskins to be more than just a page on Instagram. We see the impact online, moving forward we would like to bring that same impact offline by educating and bringing light to the dangers of skin lightening not only physically but mentally as well. We must put a stop to this and encourage self-care and love within ourselves and the generations to come.
I would like to advise the young women who are using social media for positive change to never lose your drive. If you are truly passionate about this line of work, keep striving for greatness. There are going to be some really high moments as well as some low plateaus. It is really up to you to keep your internal fire lit. Social change is not easy. There will be many negative comments. There will be many critics. People will tell you how to run your page and which content you should post. It is up to you to stand by your beliefs and decide what you will do with the criticism.
The future of social media is on our hands, especially as a woman, I believe it is a great tool and we hold a lot of influence when it comes to it. I am optimistic but yet cautious about what we have ahead. Although, with all its benefits, social media can hold too much weight on our lives. I recommend everyone to take the time to learn the distinction between reality and social media. Find beauty and balance within it.
Laureen Chalumeau is the founder of Us Darkskins. Originally from the Boston area, she is of Haitian descent. Currently, she is a student at Northeastern University studying biology as well as a minor in Spanish. When she is not in classes, she is “looking for different ways to build my brand and speak out against skin bleaching and colorism.”
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