The poem is about a woman looking back at wishing she were white skinned in her youth. It talks about white movie stars and lighter skin sisters all being desired more than her. Being white to this woman seems to be the epitome of beauty. It shows how society puts white people in the spotlight and all diversities to the shadows. This woman lived her life filled with jealousy of white women. She resents herself for not being white.
This is not a poem I relate to. Nellie wants to be white because that is the social norm. I am white and as a child I felt my skin color and appearance were boring. I was white and had blue eyes and blonde hair. I just felt so typical. As a child I longed to have curves and darker skin. I hated that the words most often used to describe my skin were “milky” and “porcelain.” Milky just sounds gross and has this connotation to me that at any second it could go rotten. Porcelain is something that is breakable and delicate; fragile. The stereotypes for Asian women were “intelligent.” Well, who wouldn’t want that? The stereotypes for Latina and Black women were words like “fiery and sassy.” That fit me much better than the white blonde girl stereotypes of dumb and air headed. I wanted to feel exotic; like I belonged far away. Reading this poem is weird for me because I can’t help, but wonder, “Why would you trade your skin in for the social norm?”