Are Black Women Invisible Beauties?

A study by the Pew Research Center entitled, “Marrying Out: One-in-Seven New U.S. Marriages is Interracial or Interethnic,” reported many statistics concerning mixed marriages. The study found that: “Of the four groups tested in the survey, openness to a family member’s marriage to an African American ranked lowest.” Furthermore, African American women in particular were at the bottom of the list. According to the study, most of the interracial marriages to an African American involved a male.

Last year an article entitled, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women” by Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa appeared in Psychology Today. His study reports that black women are less attractive because they have more testosterone and are therefore more manly than other races. He also states that black women’s higher average Body Mass Index and lack of “intelligence” has something to do with it as well. The article has since been removed from Psychology Today’s website due to the outcry. The fact that it was ever published baffles me.

A few years ago Tyra Banks, on her show, highlighted “black hair.”  She discussed topics such as good hair versus bad hair, relaxed versus natural, and long versus short. There were a lot of interesting points made. It was educational overall. However, there is one part of that episode that I will never forget. She invited several young African American girls all under the age of 9 years old to the show. One of her producers interviewed the young panel. Wigs were lined up so all the girls could see. The wigs ranged from straight and blonde to black and kinky.  Several questions were asked but there were two responses that I found most striking. One of the girls, who was biracial, referred to those with kinky hair as “lower class”. Remember, these girls are all under the age of 9. Furthermore when asked, “which wig is the ugliest? Which is the one that you wouldn’t want hair like?” All girls pointed to the afro.

There is definitely a historical explanation for why we feel the way we do about our hair, our skin, our beauty. It dates all the way back to slavery. Litter skinned slaves, which were most of the time connected to the “master” by blood through rape, worked in the home rather than the fields. They had a better chance of being freed, gaining an education, inheriting land. These light skinned slaves had smoother hair; they looked more like their white fathers. Initially, colorism was mostly a matter of opportunity. It later became more of an esthetic issue. Though there is a historical explanation, these same ideas have been kept alive in our community. A black young women is first introduced to these ideas at home then the media cultivates it with articles like Dr.Kanazawa’s.

However, if one digs just a little bit deeper a huge contradiction is apparent.  The entire tanning salon industry generates about $11.2 billion each year in gross income. These clients are mostly Caucasian. These Caucasians tan to achieve a darker appearance. Even more money is spent on breast augmentations, “booty”  implants, and lip implants to mimic the classic black hourglass figure and plump lips. More recently the afro perm has become hugely popular amongst the Asian community, more specifically, in Japan and Korea. This chemical process changes their naturally straight texture to mimic hair that of African descent. Can you believe it? Most African Americans still won’t embrace their natural texture, using relaxers and weaves to achieve a straight look. However, our Asian sisters are trying to make their hair look like ours!

Beauty comes in many shapes, sizes, colors, textures, lengths, and cultures. I can appreciate the beauty in straight hair just as I can kinky. This includes skin color as well. However,  I won’t allow the dated realities of my ancestors to be my present outlook. I won’t allow bored racist researchers to tell me that I am fat, manly, and undesirable. I won’t allow anyone to tell me that my hair, skin, nose, lips, butt, breasts are not beautiful. We as black women need to live in self motivation, positive self esteem, and self encouragement to counter these false concepts. This is exactly why I wake up in the morning, look at myself in the mirror, and say to myself “ girl you look good!” So I don’t need media to portray it or people to say it; I believe it first.

– Patricia Charitable

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed.