Black Women & America’s White Supremacist Beauty Double Standards
#DearWhitePeople: Racism is about more than just skin color.
A few weeks ago, the hashtag #FlexinMyComplexion was trending on Twitter, which was started by activist & artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed: “…as a way to unapologetically embrace their beauty even if the industry won’t and thereby empower other women to believe that their skin tone is also beautiful.”
Now, I’m not going to dwell on the deliciously salty #WhiteTears that were shed for being excluded from this hashtag (oh, the irony); or the oversexualization of black women’s bodies (that’s for another day).
Instead, I want to focus on a racist comment made by someone who–rather than criticizing a particular black woman’s skin tone–criticized her lips & hair instead.
Look at this picture of this amazingly beautiful woman:
…only to be ruined by this racist-ass comment by some nobody named Fred House:
“Anyone who knows me, knows I have no problem with her skin color. But, her hair looks like it was styled with static electricity. Her lips look like they have been injected with massive amounts of botox. But I wouldn’t go so far as to call her beautiful.”
As you can imagine, my reaction to this comment was one of utter shock, anger and disbelief. Actually, scratch “disbelief,” because I soon remembered that we’re living in America, so this isn’t all that shocking, after all, unfortunately.
If you don’t see anything wrong with this racist dickhead’s comments, allow me to give you the opportunity to redeem yourself by breaking down all that is wrong with them. And if you disagree: well, then I guess that makes you a racist dickhead, as well. *sips tea*
“Anyone who knows me, knows I have no problem with her skin color…”
Well, isn’t THAT a relief. Because clearly: race only refers to skin color, right gais? Gais?
This is basically the equivalent of the classic: “I’m not a racist, but…”, so you just know he’s about to spout some racist ignorance.
Predictably: he goes on to trash everything about her, except her skin color:
“…But, her hair looks like it was styled with static electricity…”
Yes, black hair grows differently than white hair; usually in tight coils that grow to form hairstyles such as afros and locs (nothing to “dread” about them), natural hairstyles that–to some people–are considered “unprofessional” and are even banned in certain workplaces! It’s no surprise that for decades, if not centuries, black women have been chemically straightening their hair (which is absolutely terrible for the woman AND her hair), or wearing hair extensions (i.e. “weave;” can also be bad for natural hair if done incorrectly) and wigs to cover up their natural hair. Because: #RespectabilityPolitics.
“…Her lips look like they have been injected with massive amounts of botox*…”
Yes, black people tend to have fuller facial features (lips, nose, cheekbones) than white people. But guess what: many non-black women pay small fortunes to endure painful cosmetic surgery, just to have their lips (amongst other things) augmented:
So if these features are “undesirable,” why are women flocking to appropriate them?
*Speaking of which…
Not only is he a racist dickhead, but he’s also a dumbass: Collagen is
used to augment lips, whereas Botox is used to paralyze facial muscles
to prevent wrinkles–something that white women also use to try and look
as ageless as their black counterparts. Ever hear of the term “black
don’t crack?” It’s been proven time and time again that–all things being
equal–skin with higher levels of melanin ages much more gracefully.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Cicely Tyson versus Queen Elizabeth II:
“…But I wouldn’t go so far as to call her beautiful.”
Let me ask you, dear reader: Do you not find this woman beautiful (in some way)? Not even asking if you find her “sexy” or “hot.” Just beautiful. Welp?
If you don’t, it’s cool.
Actually, it’s not. It means that your beauty standards have been conditioned by a system of White Supremacy (I’m not just talking to the white folks, by the way).
I can hear it now: “But Xander, I’m/he’s allowed to have preferences! I’m/he’s/we’re not racist!!!”
Yes indeed, you are allowed to have preferences in who you find attractive. But if you grew up in the good ol’ U-S-of-A, you also need to accept that your preferences were heavily influenced by a racist beauty ideal (“whiteness”) that is heavily white-supremacist.
Don’t believe me?
Then why is it that when you search for “beautiful skin” in Google…
Notice anything wrong with this picture?
…the results are a bit…monochromatic?
Same with “perfect skin”:
“Holy shit, a single black person!”
Still don’t believe me?
Let’s use a couple of makeup ads from 2008 as an example, as archived by Lisa Wade, PhD:
“One manifestation of white supremacy is the use of whiteness as the standard of beauty. When whiteness is considered superior, white people are considered more attractive by definition and, insofar as the appearance of people of other races deviates from that standard, they are considered ugly. Non-white people are still allowed to be considered beautiful, of course, as long as they look like white people. This collection of images is a nice illustration of the way in which black women, in particular, are expected to look white in order to qualify as beautiful. The images are powerful because the black models look almost identical to the white models, but also because they are ads for make-up. So the ads are literally selling beauty.” - When Whiteness is the Standard of Beauty by Lisa Wade, PhD“