Everyone has that one anime that made a huge impact in their life. Mine was Peach Girl. Created by Miwa Ueda, this shoujo series helped make me who I am today.
Imagine this, it’s 2009 in the summertime and a 14 year old black girl in Queens, New York, who has just gotten into anime was searching vigorously for something to dull her boredom. Then she stumbles across an anime starring a high school girl with bright orange hair and brown skin like hers. That’s how I found Peach Girl.
I remember it like it was yesterday, binge watching from the middle of the day to the middle of the night. I never thought I would find an anime with a girl who looked like me. That also wasn’t a bad stereotypical caricature. Momo wasn’t black–in fact, her skin was so tan because she was on the swim team. (Her hair was orange from the chlorine in the pool.) But she dealt with colorism along with self hate all throughout the show. To show the severity of her body issues, she bathed herself in sunscreen, and quit the team all because the boy she liked didn’t like girls with dark skin.
I felt shocked as I rewatched the series as an adult, and realized why 14 year old me loved this show so much. I was Momo. Constantly wanting to change myself whether it was because I wanted someone to like me or I was tired of constantly being judged for being who I am. I didn’t fit in the mold of the “typical” black girl and was ridiculed. Along with toxic adolescent friendships that was fueled by “good” intentions Momo and I were walking down the same path. To me, she was right to feel the way she felt.
This isn’t a sad story with a sad ending though. Both Momo and I came to accept and love ourselves, made true friends, and ended up with someone who loves us for who we are. In fact in the new manga Peach Girl Next (10 years in the future), Momo works as a full-time scuba instructor. She’s doing what she loves as her career and although she still has some insecurities, She is working through it in a healthy way. Self Love isn’t impossible. Things will change with time self acceptance and courage to get through the though times. Peach Girl can be overly dramatic at times but I wouldn’t change it for the world.