Tonya Lampley, Author
Beauty and The Black Woman
Updated: Nov 17, 2019
There is an impossible standard of beauty for women. Men pick us apart, other women pick us apart and we pick ourselves apart. Society is hard on women in general. And especially hard on black women.
The European idea of beauty has dominated for decades. The elusive blond, stick straight long hair and thin frame has been the holy grail of appearance. And while it’s changed somewhat, it's only by degree. The exotic looking woman has kind of crept into the frame and expanded the definition slightly but the only thing that’s really changed is the tone of the hair and skin are a little darker—a la Kim Kardashian, Sofia Vegara. Still looks nothing like me or my darker skinned sisters. So where does that leave black women?
Newsflash...our physical features have been labeled as less than desirable. Shocking, sad and true. And as I see some of the most militant of black men come forward in support of the cause of defeating racism with fists clenched tight and raised high, a peek behind the curtain will show that while they stood in support of their blackness in public, when it came time to choose a mate, they didn’t choose a black woman. They chose someone from another race or as close as they could get without crossing over. I see a noteworthy pattern.
My point to all of this? First, let me say, I’m not against interracial marriage, in fact, I come from a family with a rich legacy of diversity in marriage. I believe true love transcends bounds of race, gender etc and my family has blessed me by reflecting that. The heart chooses…sometimes against our own volition. Neither am I speaking out in order to stoke the fires of divisiveness. I am a humanitarian first and foremost. I stand in favor of all human beings. What I’m speaking to is the notion of societal conditioning; of not deciding for ourselves, what the truth is. Of letting outside forces make decisions for us. “I won’t date a woman with darker skin or textured hair because society says another type of woman is more desirable.” I’m speaking out because it’s wrong to relegate an entire group of people as undesirable based on superficial, external characteristics. What makes a person good or bad, desirable or undesirable should be their character and the condition of their heart, not external features. Isn’t that the basis of racism? Discrimination in any form is wrong. It’s a sad state when we turn on ourselves.
I’m speaking out today in favor of black women because that is my demographic, but I stand in favor of ALL women, in the myriad of colors, shapes, forms and sizes in which we come. We have to learn to love and accept ourselves and celebrate our diversity even when no one else does.
But I will say this to men, love who you love, but as society tries to tell you what is beautiful or what isn’t:
Don’t sleep on that #BlackGirlMagic because her hair isn’t straight and her skin is the color of caramel or mahogany. Don’t be afraid of hips that sway with pride, tongues that speak our mind. There is a richness to us…a strength that is inherent in all women, but because of our unique journey, it’s especially rich in the black female. Legacy making, baby!
Check out my novel Dirty for an exploration of what it truly means to be beautiful and finding the courage to love yourself. Grab your copy <here>
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