Most people live their lives as other people,
Their dreams are false and their happiness and identities
Are forged by others. They lead their lives as a quotation
Few things in this world can be called permanent. This includes the identities we inherit from our parents and the genes of our ancestors that we carry the second we are born. We can either be male or female, we cannot chose, our skin color can vary from one shade to another, out of control of our decision, we can be born with a gifted mind, or as a simple one and all that is in between.
All these factors largely form our identity, which we will carry for the rest of our lives. This essentially means that part of our identity is already written and given to us, we cannot modify what we are born as, and we cannot manipulate or toy with the identity we inherit. Above all and most importantly, we cannot escape the person we are born as, no matter how hard we try, history will remain unchanged and a large portion of our identity will remain out of our reach to influence. When we are stuck in the middle of two perspectives and agreeing with both, it becomes difficult to understand where we truly belong. Escaping from the identity that others design for us is in many instances, extremely challenging.
In most instances we are proud of who are born as being and what flag and language compliments our given name and surname on our birth certificate. However, the film Skin directed by Anthony Fabian exposes a new perception of such a delicate phenomenon where one is born as the ‘wrong person’, with the ‘wrong identity’. The film examines the sense of entrapment faced by the Laing family and as they are forced to confront their identities and deal with the fragmentations that face them in their daily lives as they struggle to alter how others perceive them.
Sandra Laing, the young protagonist of the film, is ill fated. She is born with ‘black’ external characteristics such as dark skin and fuzzy hair and consequently succumbs to the harsh racist and apartheid policies of the Republic of South Africa of the late 20th century. Frequently tormented and excluded by fellow peers and even adults, Sandra leads a turbulent childhood due to her mild African aesthetic qualities, which she cannot possibly erase. Incapable of escaping the body she was bestowed with, Sandra seeks acceptance in by enveloping herself with the identity that she believed to be a truer reflection of herself; an identity as colored person. Undeniably, the choice to turn her back on he official classification serves as quite isolating for Sandra and she lives her whole adult life without the support and love of her family. Indeed, she lives her whole life imprisoned in the cell that her father’s harsh judgment metaphorically and literally incarcerated her within.
Sandra's initially stable but then shambled life is the product of an imperialist apartheid government and the mental configuration of society that comes bundled with colonialism. She is hopeless in escaping the fate of being subject to a genetic throwback resulting in her modified appearance. A modified appearance she believed she could escape. From the first moments of her enrollment in a ‘white’ school, constant barrages of abuse were laid and fired directly at Sandra. With few friends that are greatly outnumbered by her enemies as well as outflanked which includes the school teachers and even the principle, Sandra struggled to escape from the humiliation and oppression of her fated identity.
Sandra’s early school life was not the only barrier that catalyzed the growing self doubt and the rejection of a white alias that she believed could only mask her true identity. As she enters her teen years, Sandra choses to a lead a black ‘colored’ life, optimistically hoping to escape her damning ‘false identity’ and lives with her lover, Petrus, who she describes as someone that…