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Gabrielle Union Talks Battling Colorism with Her Stepsons

There’s no place for Eurocentric beauty standards in Gabrielle Union’s home. In a recent interview with Refinery29, the actress explained how she is fighting colorism with her stepsons and Dwyane Wade’s nephew, teaching them that beauty is not limited to lighter complexions.

Union is the stepmother to Wade’s two sons Zaire and Zion, and his nephew Dahveon. All the young boys live with the couple. The 45-year-old actress shared a story about once asking the teens to show her the Instagram pages of the hottest girls at their high school.

“Literally, probably about 10 girls I looked at had the same light skin, curly hair, tiny waist, butt, boobs — it was the same girl over and over again,” Union said. “So I asked them to show me the most beautiful chocolate sister they’ve seen. They say there are none. I was like, ‘Why do they get exed out so fast? What is happening in your brain that is causing you to look at these women through a prism that is distorting their actual selves?'”

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In an effort to prove their notions wrong, she showed the three teens the Instagram page of singer/actress Ryan Destiny, who is a dark-skinned woman.

“They’re like, ‘Oh, she bad!’ But do you know how many Ryan Destinies there are? I pull up every Black model, women from all over the world, and they’re beautiful. But they don’t see the beauty unless it comes from an actress or a supermodel or a video vixen. They have to have somebody else tell them that a chocolate woman is attractive for them to believe it.”

The Being Mary Jane star has experienced colorism throughout her years as an actress in Hollywood. She also said once she jumped into the beauty industry with Flawless, her hair-care line sold at Ulta, she saw how it played out in the lack of distribution and diverse products for women of all shades.

Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.