After years and years of internalizing the beauty standard promoted all around me, I headed off to college with a low self-esteem and essentially no sense of self-worth.I went out to a frat party with my roommate on our first night.When you look at the role models of my youth, the people and products the media put forth and said, “This is beauty personified,” you’ll notice a distinct theme: Barbie, Britney Spears, Polly Pocket, Sailor Moon, Mandy Moore, Mary Kate and Ashley — all white.I was fully submerged, I mean genuinely immersed, in a culture where people like me weren’t valued as beautiful, so much so that I remember wishing the thick, coarse hair on my American Girl doll, Addy, was straighter and “prettier,” like that of my other dolls.Still, it was always funny that my mother questioned why I kept dating white guys, especially because I was raised as one of only few people of color in my community.
Once I escaped the small, isolated microcosm of Upstate New York, I met people who didn't think of me just based off of my skin color.Although I am a black woman in an interracial relationship, I only gave Baker's piece a cursory glance at first. "A lot of people aren't bothered by interracial relationships, but, on the flip side, many people still are.In the midst of a full news feed, it just seemed like more noise. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 96 percent of blacks and 84 percent of whites approve of black-white marriage.As a young woman of color, I can attest to the fact that many people in this world feel it is their duty — no, their God-given right — to decide what is best for me, and especially whom is best for me to date.For instance, I felt the need to defend my relationships to my mother who, like Baker’s mother, wondered when her daughter would bring home someone who looked more Michael B. My mother will resent me for saying this, but I know there is a part of her that wanted to see me settle down with someone black, someone who looked like me.While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I came across a link to a Gawker article that one of my friends reposted.In an essay entitled "The Reality of Dating White Women When You're Black," writer Ernest Baker tackles big topics like Eurocentric beauty standards, the taboo aspect of interracial relationships, and why he dates white women, among others: Why do I date white women?I went to a predominantly white high school where I was one of maybe five black kids.I grew up thinking that because I looked different, I somehow wasn't good enough.I was fully aware that he had blond hair and blue eyes when I met him, obviously, but I didn't really understand what that meant until years later.One of the most difficult parts about being in an interracial relationship is the fact that I started to question things I never I questioned before.