'Loving Blackness taught me to love my brownness': 'Black Is King' model Sheerah Ravindren on the power of 'Brown Skin Girl' video

Dana Oliver
·3 mins read

My Beauty, My Way is a new video series hosted by Yahoo Life beauty director Dana Oliver, where women of different ages and backgrounds break down their beauty routines to explain what beauty truly means to them and how it represents their cultural identity.

If you’re a Beyoncé fan or a self-proclaimed member of the Beyhive like myself, then you’ve probably watched the megastar’s Black Is King film on Disney+ several times since its release. The visual album is a celebration of Black pride, and it affirms the different types of beauty and cultures that exist throughout the African diaspora.

The song “Brown Skin Girl,” in particular, is a beautiful tribute to dark-skinned Black girls and women, including lyrics that shoutout Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyongo’o and Kelly Rowland. So it was no surprise when those three stunners popped up in the music video segment of the film. But one feature that did amaze many people was that of South Asian model Sheerah Ravindren.

Wearing ornate gold jewelry and an ethereal floral headpiece, the 24-year-old lit up the screen for just three seconds. However, she made a lasting impression that illustrates how colorism impacts dark-skinned women all over the world.

Ravindren immediately took to Instagram when Black Is King made its debut to share her excitement about “featured in a music video with the likes of Gorgeous Melanin Queens.” She wrote: “Such a blessing to be in this beautiful art piece that shows the beauty and power of Blackness just to be able rep the Tamil and South Asian folx for those few seconds for BEYONCE is an honor.”

Loving Blackness taught me to love my brownness because of what I had been taught by Black activists, musicians, creatives, especially Black women. Sheerah Ravindren

Growing up as a “Brown Skin Girl,” the model and activist tells Yahoo Life that she experienced bullying because of her “dark complexion” from white children and people within her own Tamil community.

“I faced a lot of racism,” says Ravindren. “But even being a Tamil person, I had to deal with racism from other South Asian groups, especially like North Indians. Punjabi kids in school would look down on us kids because we were technically darker-skinned and they call us ‘fresh.’”

We're living in a world, especially towards Black people, in a world that vouches for our destruction and our self-hate, you're the only person that can give you the love that you need. Sheerah Ravindren

Ravindren started reading about the civil rights movement, Black Panthers and the “Black is beautiful” ethos during her teenage years. She says, “Loving Blackness taught me to love my brownness because of what I had been taught by Black activists, musicians, creatives, especially Black women. The love that they had shown me is what kind of inspired me to love myself and my own people when my own people couldn't do that for me.”

Now older and wiser, Ravindren uses her voice to advocate for underrepresented people and has carved out a space on Instagram where she promotes self-love and body positivity. Her advice for fellow brown-skinned girls: “We're living in a world, especially towards Black people, in a world that vouches for our destruction and our self-hate, you're the only person that can give you the love that you need. You can't expect that from a world that is not vouching for you.”

Keep up with all things Sheerah Ravindren by following her on Instagram.