Prince Harry’s girlfriend Meghan Markle is far from being the first non-white person to enter the upper echelons of British society, but she is certainly the most famous, and she is clearly not shying away from using her new status as presumed-fiancée-in-waiting to Harry to raise awareness of the importance of cultural inclusivity and the dangers of casual racism.
In the new issue of Allure magazine—which features stories about diversity, inclusion, and the politics of skin color in beauty from 41 women of color—Markle, whose mother is African-American and whose father is Caucasian, opened up about the assumptions and inequality she’s faced in Hollywood based on the color of her skin.
She says in the magazine that her “pet peeve” is having her skin tone changed or freckles airbrushed out of pictures.
The small contribution to the Allure feature, which also features snippets from Jessica Alba, Priyanka Chopra, Bethann Hardison, Zazie Beetz, Eva Longoria, and Samira Wiley, follows Markle’s publication, on Martin Luther King Day, of a moving piece of writing exploring the overt and covert racism she and her family have experienced throughout their lives.
In the new piece she writes: “I have the most vivid memories of being 7 years old and my mom picking me up from my grandmother’s house. There were the three of us, a family tree in an ombré of mocha next to the caramel complexion of my mom and light-skinned, freckled me.
“I remember the sense of belonging, having nothing to do with the color of my skin. It was only outside the comforts of home that the world began to challenge those ideals.
“I took an African-American studies class at Northwestern, where we explored colorism; it was the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community, too mixed in the white community.
“For castings, I was labeled ‘ethnically ambiguous.’ Was I Latina? Sephardic? ‘Exotic Caucasian’? Add the freckles to the mix and it created quite the conundrum.
“To this day, my pet peeve is when my skin tone is changed and my freckles are airbrushed out of a photo shoot. For all my freckle-faced friends out there, I will share with you something my dad told me when I was younger: ‘A face without freckles is a night without stars.’ ”