"You are brown and everyone else is pink.....you are not beautiful"

(13 Posts)
Toribee Thu 07-Apr-16 22:06:42

So my 3 year old came back from nursery and said "mummy xxxx said ' i'm brown and you're brown and every one else is pink'" and I asked what else xxxx had said and she said "xxx said 'I'm not beautiful'".

So this is all new to me. I moved to the UK as an adult. I grew up in a country where everyone is black and was completely oblivious to skin colour and race. I expected I would have to have the race conversation at some point in my motherhood career but not at 3 years.

tbh, the second statement may not have been linked to the first one, they may have been 2 independent conversations (who knows what 3 year olds discuss in nursery) and she has always noted the fact that she is brown and mummy is brown and daddy is pink! And i've never thought much about it. However, i'm wondering if i need to really start thinking about race and how to prevent my 3 year old getting hurt.

I have no ideas on what to do.

NKFell Thu 14-Apr-16 17:21:11

I'm afraid I have no recollection of being 3yrs old but all through Primary School and Secondary School me and my siblings were the only black kids and other than curiosity, no one was ever mean to us.

I'm sure it will improve as she gets older although you shouldn't let her be too sensitive either. For example, I remember being about 6 or 7 and my friend saying her Grandad said I'd been in the oven longer than she had! Now I know that's a bit hmm but it wasn't intended to be mean (and I believed him!). I remember comparing tongues at about 9 or 10, my friend said she liked the colour of my tongue more so we had to look in the mirror and compare!

Point is, don't worry- I can't speak for the entire UK but nothing bad has ever happened to me and any racism I've encountered has generally been people being over politically correct!

Catvsworld Fri 15-Apr-16 13:02:05

This exactly why I don't think it's often a good idea for people with mixed children to live in a mostly white area

We choose a mixed are to prevent this type self hate

Catvsworld Fri 15-Apr-16 13:09:39

poster NKFell T

I a, afraid to say if you continue to live in a place were no one looks like you it can be quite damaging to your self view it's often not enough that one or both parents look like you as its not there you spend most of your day

My friend who had never had a issue with her mixed daugter at age 7 they moved to Guildford in a village that is 98% white

She is now under CHAMS after they caught her at age 12 trying to bleach her skin with domestos bleach

Ther is no teacher even Asian that looks like her no child not even any who works in the will age not a policeman or a shopkeeper the ideal amongst the boys in her class of beauty is blond and blue eyes she can't never meet that she has also been begging her mother to straighten her her and dye it

I am afraid I just don't believe she would have had these issues if she stayed living in south London

NKFell Fri 15-Apr-16 16:24:08

Cats I live in an all white area and don't have a problem, that's just a fact and I've never wanted to bleach my skin! Just as I can't speak for the whole of the UK, remember you can't either and whilst you're just as entitled to your opinion as anyone else I don't scaring someone will help but, that's just my opinion.

Catvsworld Fri 15-Apr-16 20:49:19

Your an adult

And to be honest the lack of role models and mixed raced children and women who are attractive and look like op child is clearly effecting her

I would think if the ops child we to to a nursey were he majority of children are mixed she would have this issue and OP wouldn't have to talk to her daughter

My daughter attends a multi cultural nursey and many Of the staff are mixed raced also and she is not asking these issue my husband is white she is 3
We also love in a very mixed area

I think children are often trying to figure out were they fit in espically in school and it can be difficult to be the odd one out wanting to be like the main steam can lead to self hate and the rejection of who you are

If the pervaling think is frozen blond hair big blue eyes it's difficult when you can never look like that most children just want to fit in

I don't speak for eveyone I simply speak of Somone who has mixed children and have known white friends with mixed children who really struggle with this issues when moving rurally to live near there family

My friend thought her biggest issue would be rascism from other the reality is the biggest issue she has had is the low self a steam not having any one who looks like there daughter

Also also the fetishisation of her daughter when they are out and about buy other adults

And I do think there are other factors that also come into play how light you are, what your hair is like ect all comes in to play

My friends daughter finds it very difficult to deal with the fact she is very dark and gets up set that people can't tell she is mixed she hates her hair and want to look like the girls in her all white school witch of course she can't

And I just don't believe she would have these issue if she were in a mixed envioment

MeadowHay Sat 16-Apr-16 11:30:23

I am mixed (white British and middle eastern), I usually 'pass' as white, so I didn't experience anything similar to your daughter when I was little. I grew up in quite a white area, although there were probably about handful of people who were not white British in each year of my primary school. My parents really pushed for us to have relationships with the ex-pat and refugee communities of my other nationality which I think was super beneficial for me and my siblings and protected us from potential self-loathing and things. I do remember in year 5/6 of primary school being picked on a bit by some boys because due to my heritage I am very hairy ("Haha, Meadow has a moustache, and she's a girl! Meadow, why do you have a moustache?!") which was upsetting, but I also clearly remember some of the other girls (white) defending me.

I think you really need to try and diversify the people that your little one meets. At 3 they are so impressionable and they are really trying to start building up their world view beyond just mum and dad. It will be really beneficial for your little one to meet other people who are black/brown/non-white and to be told how beautiful these people are and how everyone is different but everyone is beautiful in their own way etc. The narrative she is getting at nursery is already that the 'norm' is white, and as parents of a mixed child I think it's really important to offer them a different narrative, one that really promotes and demonstrates diversity.

IPityThePontipines Sat 16-Apr-16 11:36:23

as parents of a mixed child I think it's really important to offer them a different narrative, one that really promotes and demonstrates diversity.

I would agree with this and we live in a very mixed area for precisely this reason.

Children can internalise negative messages about their self image from a very young age.

camelfinger Sat 16-Apr-16 12:31:27

I grew up in a predominantly white area. There was one black girl in my class. I distinctly remember, aged 5 not liking her, and considering a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes (Mary in the nativity) as beautiful. I thought this from the first day at school, and my parents would not have shown any racist tendencies whatsoever so I think it unlikely that external influences caused me to think that way. So part of me wonders whether there is a stage quite early in in life where a child starts to pick up on differences, which is more apparent in obvious minorities. Incidentally, the black girl was a good laugh and the 'beautiful' girl was a bit boring, but I can't help the way I felt at first instinctively.
I live in a very multicultural area so I hope that my DC will be used to seeing people of all ethnicities by the time they go to school. I think that 3 might be a good time to start having conversations about differences etc. I think that building her confidence and self esteem will help her in feeling at ease in possibly difficult situations at school.

unlucky83 Sat 16-Apr-16 13:18:26

I have mixed race DCs ...they live in a predominantly white area. I think you just need to emphasise the positive. There is no reason for your DC to be hurt - they are just a bit different to others in her nursery class - not inferior or superior. And we are all different. I am sure some children are taller, shorter, fatter thinner, blond, hair, ginger hair, brown hair, black hair. Blue or brown or grey eyes. Some are better at sport, than school work etc etc. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Skin colour doesn't come into that. You are not defined by your skin colour.
And the 'not beautiful comment' doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the colour of her skin - or her hair type.
If she does come across any racists -people who judge her purely on the colour of her skin/ethnic background - they are the bad people - idiots - not her.
From being tiny I have told my DCs they have a fantastic skin colour - lots of white people spend a fortune on fake tans etc to get a colour anything like theirs. I am white (very) so burn easily - they have a genetic advantage - skin that burns less easily and goes a beautiful brown - don't need to be smothered in sun cream at the first appearance of sun. My mother mentioned a while ago that she saw a blond child and thought they looked really pale and ill -then realised she was comparing them to her DGCs.
I grew up in a predominantly white area - and went to a predominantly white schools. And I don't judge people on their skin colour - I judge them as they treat me. DP did experience racism growing up and he thinks people look at him and see brown skin and judge him ...whereas I don't - I do obvious notice at first but also forget. One of my best friends at secondary was one of the only black people in the school - and that actually never really dawned on me at the time... only years later when I was thinking about the mix of the school.
And I was accused of racism by a black guy I worked with - I had developed Raynaulds and didn't know really what it was and asked him if he had ever had his fingers go completely white like that - only when he gave me a funny look did it dawn on me on it was a silly thing to say. But I only said it because I didn't think of him as a 'black person' - to me he was just a person...being black didn't define him in my brain.
Only 'racism' experienced was by DC1 when she pointed out she was 'special' and needed browner paint in a self portrait at primary and one boy told her she was the 'odd one out' but that was more in response to her saying she was special than the colour of her skin....
DD1 also has ADHD - and that is something that annoys me about that too - I went to a parent's workshop thing and it was all about its disadvantages - everything was negative - nothing positive. And there are positives ...lots of well know famous/rich/successful people with ADHD. It does make getting through school hard for them (parenting someone with it is harder) but it has it plus sides too....

NKFell Mon 18-Apr-16 14:03:18

I agree with you meadow - it could be because I have a lot of siblings and used to make frequent trips abroad to visit family in black/hispanic country. A lot of the books I had were sent from my family abroad so lots of black kids.

I have quite dark skin and my ex is white and very fair, we have 3 DCs and their skin tones vary. They are all beautiful and I've never bought into the 'lighter is better' argument and when people do, my automatic reaction is just that they're wrong. My Mum has very dark skin and my Dad worships the ground she walks on. For all I agree that you can't rely on what happens at home, it has certainly had an impact on me.

So did school, I live in a small community and on reflection it probably could have gone either way. As it happens it's very positive and it is the same reason I'm choosing to bring my DCs up here.

howrudeforme Thu 30-Jun-16 22:40:57

Meadow - I am also hairy - I'm part english and part indian but everyone things I'm Iranian. I mix with lots of Iranian women but can't keep up with the epilating thing. I've simply given up. Remain hairy and proud.

In relation to being mixed heritage. First, I'm not black. But I am nearly 50 years old and UK born and I've seen sooooo much.

First thing I would say is that we moved out of London when I was young. I was the only so called 'ethnic minority' at my school. I can pass as a dark skinned white person but in a small community, everyone knew my parents. We're talking 1970's here.

So:
School was super crap - had preconceived ideas and thought I couldn't read /write English. I was written off even though I had a reading age about 3 years in advance. My df was unhappy and complained. It did no good. But I did fine anyway. My df (English) was a lateral thinker and turned every negative into a positive and this helped me loads. He did give me books about mixed heritage issues when I was 11 years old but these were graduate entry books, so I ignored and I was fine - with my parents. Note my Indian mother never gave me any guidance but I was brought up in the centre of a large exended asian family. It all felt normal.

School friends LOVED me as they thought we were different - and it was not cynical - they just hadn't met a family like ours. My mother would never accuse them of racism because of their lack of experience with other cultures.

Beauty - my parents NEVER brought me up to think of beauty in any shape of form (neither did my mother help me with my hairiness) - they were both non racist and non sexist. I grew up in an area where pretty much everyone else was blond - I had a greasy dark olive skin, and had very dark, thick and frizzy hair. . Yes, I did not feel attractive, but my parents viewed me as individual and encouraged me in that and so I was viewed as different and 'cool'. That has stayed with me all my life.

I have a ds who is not of my ethnicities - and he's constantly asked where he's from - he says he's a child and not a nationality - FANTASTIC - so proud of him.

As I said, I'm well into middle age and I really feel that innocence of the past has been lost - that makes me rather sad.

There is no prescriptive idea of being mixed heritage in my view.

There is racism and it must be tackled but there's no one size fits all way of dealing with it.

golfmonkey Fri 19-Aug-16 20:47:53

Just want to share my experience too if that's ok. I am mixed asian/white and people usually think I'm 'exotic' looking. At primary school in 1980s I was subject to a lot of racism, called p**i, bullied. Lived in a very white semi rural area. Was told i couldnt even be considered for christmas fairy as i had dark hair and eyes, remember crying my eyes out age 6ish. I went to high school in the 1990s in a city and it was really diverse - I loved it and loved being around lots of people of different heritage, colours, religions and learnt so much from it, also got more confidence rather than wanting to be white like everyone else.
Continued to live and work in cities which were very diverse and always said I'd never want to go back to semi rural 'shire'.
However, due to jobs etc I now live exactly there. Though my husband is white, my dd2 is really brown - so beautiful and much darker than me, so she will look Indian (amazing genes!). However I do worry about the fact that dcs will likely.be one of.a handful of mixed kids and possibly grow up 'ignorant' of other cultures.
I plan to try really hard to expose dcs to pots.of different cultures and people and show positive role models from all different ethnic and.cultural backgrounds, but I do fear the day my dd's come.back from school/nursery with questions like your dd's. I'm pretty sure they'll be bullied for being really hairy sad.
Hopefully as it's 30 years later things will have improved but I fear they haven't (see.EU referendum result, black lives matter).
I think the only thing you.can do is try to keep your dd's confidence high, expose her to positive role models and toys/books with diverse backgrounds and keep emphasising that she is beautiful and worthy and that kindness, tolerance, etc are good qualities. I think girls especially are under a lot of pressure to look a certain way and I think one of the hardest things will be to keep theit confidence high.
Good luck x

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