Trying to figure out your identity is challenging for any child or pre-teen. It can be especially tough for first-generation young people who must navigate the world their parents are from, while trying to survive in the world they now occupy. Complex host Claire Ateku candidly discusses this balancing act and more in the first episode of Complex and Sephora’s Beauty Beyond the Surface video.
Born in Kenya and raised outside of Dallas, Texas, Claire says her earliest memories of beauty and self-discovery came by way of harsh, colorist comments from members from her own community. “Getting comments like, “Oh, you’re midnight black, African-booty scratcher, your lips are super dark.” We weren’t having the same conversation now that we’re having about colorism.”
Those hurtful words only helped fuel a belief in Claire that the prettiest girls were white girls, and as a result to feel pretty and be viewed as such, Claire tried severely altering her skin. “At some point, I tried to bleach my skin,” Claire says. “In the African community, bleaching is very normal.” But after a negative reaction, Claire says she came to her senses. “I was like ‘Girl, is it really worth it to try and conform to someone else’s beauty?’”
Watch the video above to hear how Claire journeyed through her insecurities to get to a place of love and self-acceptance.