Love the features, hate the people

So, I need to reflect

Rhetorics such as “black women are ugly or you’re pretty for a black girl” often circulate the media yet there are a large majority of the non-dark-skinned cohort that strives to attain those “predominately black features and nuances”. It is ironic that the level of obsession with these features and demeanors is masked by an inexcusable hate for the actual people who possess these attributes, more specifically dark-skinned women.

Meme that hits the nail on the head

The expression that dark-skinned women are at the “bottom of the totem pole” needs to be met with an equally impressive statement, miss me with that b.s. Why? Because cognitively there is no way you can be obsessed with the features (which you find palatable) but still find the people who possess them unattractive. Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery however it is well known that the origins of the desired features are culturally appropriated not appreciated.

Cultural appropriation

Interestingly, this notion that Eurocentric features are mostly desired is juxtaposed by the reality that dark-skinned features and even skin tone (to a degree) are the most sourced and imitated. However, this observation doesn’t discount the epidemic of colourism whereby attempts are made to acquire a Eurocentric skin tone and a minority of their features (e.g. small and pointed nose and though debatable, straight hair). The issue thereby lies in the fact that there is never acknowledgment/ praise/ acceptance of the origins of these features. Additionally, these same features embodied on a non-dark-skinned person are exoticised however become ridiculed or perceived as ugly when attached to the people.

The main culprit, mainstream

Pseudoscience to push sexist/ racist ideology

media maintains a narrative that dark-skinned women are unattractive through their negative and imposing depictions (vixens, villains, impoverished etc) and surprisingly through pseudoscience. Most non and some dark-skinned people are constantly consuming this narrative and subsequently become/have been conditioned to accept this propaganda.

But you may say that you do subscribe and see positive imagery of dark-skinned people!

Whilst there may be the occasional positive representation in mainstream media, you are probably more likely to encounter it on social media. Exemplified by dark-skinned queens and kings that have found selflove, exude and promote it to the mass media e.g. #blackgirlmagic #blackexcellence.

KNJNDAD
1. Leslie Jones’ beauty attacked 2. magazines reinforcing stereotypes 3. cosmetic company: big lips being ridiculed

To further the notion of why colourism is problematic, it is an entity used to push this propaganda. To simplify how it works…

If there is a push to accept an ideology (Eurocentrism (lighter complexion) > dark skin)

It becomes a stereotype (dark skin + women of colour = ugly)

That becomes adopted (dark-skinned women are ugly).

It is hard to dissipate that stereotype. And that is why the representation of all complexions matters and acts as an agent for change.

On further exploration, if your perception that dark-skinned women who possess these qualities are generally unattractive, then why continue to obsess over their features? An introspection is, therefore, a necessity to determine the root cause of this belief. Apart from an influence from media, jealousy, intimidation, and insecurities may be the other compounding factors. An occurrence of these innate feelings may be a projection of what is lacking for that individual. Perhaps it may be a motivator for that same individual to attack other women and believe/ maintain that propagated narrative that they are lesser than.

Moreover, to men, particularly dark-skinned men who publicly dehumanise and degrade the beauty of dark-skinned sisters, reflect on the cognitive processes that are motivating you to act or speak in such a way. Whilst there are copious reasons for this, too often the degradation sometimes occurs when one is unsure/ unsafe in their blackness, experience isolated events or influenced by the media to believe or maintain stereotypes or be intimately involved with other races thus perpetuating that generalisation of dark-skinned women.

Before a miscropic shift occurs that dark-skinned women are “jealous/ unhappy” about interracial dating, no one (except a few on both sides for various reasons) opposes interracial dating. The controversy surrounds some dark-skinned brothers (rappers are on top of that list) that are in interracial relationships (or not) that feel the need to publicly denounce their affiliation, announce their preference for those features to be on non-dark-skinned women and then degrade the beauty of dark-skinned women. Sisters are guilty of this too but to a lesser degree.

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Disrespect in media
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But not all dark-skinned men demonise black beauty

On a side note, in the famous words of Donovan from the Grapevine TV, “preference is about what you prefer not what you deny there is beauty in”. Regardless, some profound reflection on the following points needs to occur. Why do I need to publicise this? What outcome am I expecting? Am I generalising my experiences? Is there selfhate? Is there insecurity? Can I truly be myself in this interracial relationship? What can I learn from this? Am I open to dialogue about these beliefs? And etc..

Unfortunately, the worst price for these negatively perpetuated stereotypes, “dark-skinned women aren’t attractive/ palatable“, is that young girls are at the receiving end. Dark-skinned parents have to preemptively prepare their daughters for the inevitable hurtful comments about their appearance that they are likely to receive in the future. A duty that privileged people (mostly non-dark-skinned people, people with no disability, men etc) don’t have to prepare or partake in for.

So what can we do about this lie?

To the recipients, challenge your own thoughts when you begin to believe the negative comments about black beauty. Reaffirm yourself by following positive role models e.g. your family and understand that the current beauty standards benefit no one, even the people that are at the center of it all or that perpetuate these standards. Challenge the people that perpetuate this propaganda by creating dialogue and checking your friends.

To the empowered…..please empower others and facilitate their personal growth and realisation that they don’t have to conform to Eurocentric standards. Create an open dialogue with recipients and perpetrators, with a view to plant a seed of change, not to change their minds.

To perpetrators, apart from introspection, be diverse with your friendship groups. This will allow you to empathise and be aware of challenges encountered by dark-skinned women. Be open to dialogue. Meaning, lower your defensive wall when someone is verbalising their struggles. Remember it’s not an attack on you. It is simply an act that requires active listening, empathy and hopefully informs you enough to seek change.

To everyone, be vigilant that mainstream media has been under and misrepresenting black beauty. As an agent of change, demand that all forms of beauty are equally represented, negative stereotypes be abolished, showcase and support diversity via your own social media and create your own platforms with equality in mind.

Stay blessed,

Zim girl

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