I met Matt, my husband to be, when I was 23, and at an easy, happy point in my life.
All the adolescent struggles with my brown ethnicity seemed a distant memory, since I’d started gravitating back to the multicultural melting pot of London, a place I had perpetually missed since relocating to a predominantly white area of Essex, at aged 10.
Those formative years of existing as the sole brown face wore heavily on my character.
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Whether positive or negative, my skin was the first thing that everybody noticed, highlighted further by my all-white family - and it wasn’t long before skin became my every thought, too.
My standout differences were all-consuming, my teen years devoted to trying to fit in, conforming in the best ways I could to Western beauty standards; from the chalky paler than pale foundations I’d smother myself in, to straightening my hair so much, I suffered breakage and loss.
But on leaving school, I started to find my feet.
I worked in the glamourous tourist trap that is Harrods of Knightsbridge, where everybody was dazzling different, then temped for creative enterprises in Central London, environments where individuality was celebrated.
My circle of new diverse friends meant I could at last be me, without any hesitation or shape-shifting - and marked the most freeing spell of my life. But it left me unguarded.
I met Matt in 2003. We'd only been together for a giddy few months when he suggested I accompany him on a work trip.
I recall being excited, but in the lead up to our departure, Matt grew quieter, almost as though he regretted asking me.
Things fell into place on our first night away. During an elaborate meal - already awkward made awkward by a series of hostile, uncomfortable moments - Matt’s colleague asked me if I 'could taste Matt’s ex-girlfriend' on his body.