Beyonce, black women & beauty

August 18, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Posted in Misc. | Leave a comment

There are times when my rhetoric gets in the way of my intended meaning, and I don’t think this was ever shown more plainly than when this article was cross-posted over at LC and was about as well-received as Britain’s silver in the women’s quadruple sculls (yeah, the sporting reference proves I watched far too much Olympics whilst on holiday). Still, I thought I’d link to a post which says many of the things I was driving at, however inartfully, in that post. It also has the advantage of being able to speak from far more experience than I could ever muster.

As a woman and a feminist, I try to remove myself from the beauty as power syndrome, but realistically inhabiting the body that I do, in the society in which I reside, it is an impossibility to completely vanquish.  A male acquaintance of mine once thought to offer me a compliment, “you are beautiful for a black girl,” is what he said to me.  Another man told me, “I just don’t see you as beautiful but then I was never raised to see black women that way.” I believe that these statements are revelatory in that they  highlight which bodies are understood as beautiful and why. Black women are created as unfeminine, dark bodies in the maintenance of white female beauty, it is a binary that privileges one group while relegating another to invisibility.

When I see images like this, I understand how it is that even today black children can still show preference to a white doll over a black doll. The media and most other social institutions hold up models of black inferiority that no one would want to identify with. If a woman as attractive as Beyonce Knowles cannot be accepted as beautiful, what chance do other women who have not achieved super star status have of feeling validated in their femininity?

More here and here.

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