Help my younger cousin learn to love her skin.
December 17, 2012 6:14 PM Subscribe
How can I help my adopted cousin learn to love her skin? Have you been part of a transracial family? What did you find helpful or comforting?
posted by turniphead to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My cousin is 10 years old and was adopted from Guatemala when she was less than one year old; her adoptive parents are white. She goes to a private school in the Midwest where her classmates are also predominantly white. She has struggled with her racial identity for years and has a difficult time expressing her feelings and experiences with discrimination/racism. I don’t blame her. Most incidents I have witnessed have been subtle comments or disapproving looks. There really isn’t anyone in her social circles that look like her, although she has many friends of different ethnicities outside of school. I have a close relationship with her and she often tells me she “hates her skin” and wishes she wasn’t brown. It breaks my heart.
When I was her age I also hated my skin, but because I was teased relentlessly for being extremely pale. I was so self-conscious that I rarely wore anything besides jeans because I was too ashamed to show my legs. I frequently bought self-tanner and other garbage to darken my skin, but always turned out looking orange; this made me even more depressed and ashamed. People accused me of being sickly and told me I was unattractive. My own self-hate continued into my late teens. I don’t want her to be in the position that I was and, while I can empathize, I will never fully understand the implications of transracial adoption or the extent of the discrimination she encounters and will continue to encounter in her life.
How can I better support her? Help her learn to love her skin? Confront the assholes and help her do the same? What resources are out there that we can read?