Black vs. White New Age Standards of Beauty

“Black vs. White New Age Standards of Beauty”

With all of the strides that we’ve made in our society regarding women’s empowerment, one would think that we’d be involved in deeper discussions about the level of educational, economic, political, and global power that women have acquired. Not overlooking the fact that there are still innumerable issues of gender-based oppressions upon women, we instead find ourselves affixed to the exploitive “hot topic” of the day concerning “who’s butt is real or fake?”

A few days ago, entertainment and other media sites began to explode over the comments made from rising “Reality TV Star” Nicole “Coco” Austin, about Rapper Nicki Minaj’s backside being “fake.” She even stated that Nicki Minaj made a confession to her personally that her butt was not real, which intensified the now controversy. Her remarks about her own “voluptuous,” [I use that term very sarcastically,] body as “real” has sparked a “Battle of the Butts,” as one online urban magazine labeled, which I find UTTERLY ridiculous. While other people, [consumers and celebrities alike], are waiting with baited breath to hear how this new “war” plays out, I can’t help but be incredibly disturbed by the multi-layered offensive, racially-sexist, and culturally hypocritical nature of this entire ordeal.

To begin with the historical aspect of this highly disturbing matter, the thing that I find the most disturbing is the manner in which women of direct European descent are now co-opting figures and body-types that, while natural to women of African descent, were once declared as repulsive, unfeminine, and an aberration of nature. Women of African descent, whether on the continent or a part of the Diaspora, have been deemed as universally unattractive and phenotypically inferior when compared to that of women of European and/or Nordic descent. There have been entire books and schools of academia specifically created to “support” the Eurocentric ethos that people of African descent and other groups of color are genetically substandard and disadvantaged; Darwinism, Eugenics, and biological determinism are all philosophies spawned from the Western minds of those seeking to biologically subjugate others. So egregiously fascinated, yet simultaneously disgusted by the bodies of African/Black women, this desire to govern science through “research” to prove this racist belief became a widespread phenomenon during the early-to-mid 1800s. From 1816-1870, several African women’s deceased bodies were actually dissected and studied by “scientists” who felt compelled to examine the “oddities” and aberrant nature of African women. Among these women, Sarah Bartmann or the “Hottentot Venus,” is the most well-known individual whose body [while she was alive] was forced on display at circus-like exhibitions in Paris and London. Spectators, viewing her naturally large buttocks, would actually physically debase her, by poking and prodding her body to determine if her backside was real. It’s unfortunate, but worthy to note that, although these beliefs were held by Whites/Europeans [meaning African women’s bodies were revoltingly, animalistic, and unattractive,] African/Black women were constantly raped and sexually brutalized at the hands of those that considered them sexually unappealing; that level of [oppressive] cognitive dissonance speaks directly to a form of inhumane psychosis that is unimaginable!

Over time, this movement in scientific racism grew into contemporary culture, where European and European-American features of “beauty” became the universal standard, as evidence of the images within the modeling industry, fashion magazines and catalogs, product advertisements, and films. This global Eurocentric ideology is still present today, given last month’s article from Psychology Today, which claims that through “grounded research,” it was determined that due to “genetic” components, Black women simply are biologically less attractive than White women and those from other races!
So what we have here, is a [short] historical analysis illustrating the way in which natural/authentic physical traits among women (i.e. full lips, thighs, buttocks, etc.) of African descent were institutionally created to be hideous and unattractive. But the obvious question then is “how have these once ‘unattractive’ features become highly loved and co-opted by White women?” Well, from what I’ve observed is that within the last 8-10 years, there has been a major shift in the way the world sees and “accepts” the typical body types of African/Black women, so much so that other racial/ethnic groups [predominantly White women,] spend thousands of dollars and endure immense physical pain to acquire these once abhorred features. “How has this happened?” one might ask. If we examine the intricate relationship and intersection between media, celebrity, misogyny, and capitalism, one would clearly understand how this racially-sexist double standard has come to pass.

Now, we are all painfully aware that women have been depicted as mere disposable sexual objects in Rock, Metal, Country, Rap and Hip-Hop videos since the 80s. Well this misogyny grew into the high-level commodification and industrialization of women [and even more so Black women] and “sexuality” with the escalation of the Hip-Hop culture into mainstream society; as the popularity of this cultural-music genre increased bringing in billions of dollars, the demand [notice the capitalist context] for more naked women with those “distinct” body types grew. When you add celebrities, like Beyonce’ and J-Lo, who have popularized “curvy” figures, even though revealing their curves in overly-sexual/barely-there clothing in the process, the growth in the desire to “look like these celebrities to be more ‘beautiful’ and ‘desirable’” has caused an exponential surge in butt implant cosmetic surgery among European-American/White women across the country. [It should be noted that recently, women of color have been going under the knife to receive larger butts as well and even suffering unimaginable disfigurement to acquire bigger butts to be featured in music videos, as in the Black woman from England who met her unfortunate death because of it. Nevertheless, much of the data from Plastic Surgeons indicates that the largest consumers of this surgery are White women.]

This confiscation of Africanist traits and characteristics is not a unique phenomenon, nor is it a first time offense among the European/European-American culture. From the depiction of Egyptians as White, to the stealing of Black inventions, “urban” styles of dress, to stable cuisines (i.e. Paula Dean and Southern cooking,) and the co-optation of Black music, this desire to conquer another’s inherent cultural fabric with the objective of substantially capitalizing from it is nothing new! So it is truly no surprise at all that White women, such as Coco, would state that an African-American woman’s behind is unnatural, but her’s is 100% authentic.

Even with all of the historically racist and contemporary capitalist nature of this entire charade, there is still the element of sexism that affects both women of African and European descent, as well as women of the other groups of color. No matter the level of education a women receives, her economic wealth, political power and influence in her community, nor the fact that more women have become CEOs and founders of companies, at the end of the day, women are constantly portrayed as sexual objects that are readily disposable for a man’s pleasure! BOTTOM LINE!!!! Isn’t it interesting how we continue to trap women into superficial categories and corporeal rating systems, but rarely do that to men? Sure, there is the proclivity for women and others to look at men and compare how their body looks to that of another man, but it is a far cry from the extreme and sexually tyrannical manner in which women are portrayed and discussed across the world in a public and institutional venue. Are we as a society not evolved enough to cease and obliterate the dissecting and reducing down of women to mere body parts and oversexed life-size blow-up dolls? Because it surely doesn’t seem that we are to me…

Bio
My name is Lady J and I work in education reform and community development in the nation’s capitol. My lifelong passions include deconstructing the numerous “isms” (i.e. sexism, racism, classism, etc.) that plague our society and challenging people to think critically about how they are both affected by and affect others with these “isms.” My mission to ignite the global mobilization of people of African descent through mental emancipatory “re-education” models reflecting core/authentic Pan-Africanist elements will be my legacy….I Am We! Visit My Blog at http://imtyedsooverit.blogspot.com/.

25 Comments

  1. Ummmm, ok. This is an important discussion because? Everyone knows their bodies are fake, so why make this relevant.

    “One would think that we’d be involved in deeper discussions about the level of educational, economic, political, and global power that women have acquired.”

    O_o

  2. *That awkward moment when you realize the person above you didn’t actually read the article they are commenting on.*

  3. i really enjoyed learning from your viewpoint of basically what this world has come to as opposed to what you believe it should have evolved into. i believe we will always have a subculture of what society deems as having an unimportant focus but if you look at all aspects of life, physical appearance, financial standing and materialism rules this world and it always will and as long as we have people who can’t seem to reach societal expectations, there will be those who find where they can fit in and compete no matter how demeaning it is. very good article and keep up the great work your insight is very detailed.

  4. That other woman looks like a lightskinned black woman. Her hair dosent even look like white womans hair, it looks like a blonde weave

  5. @ Surabi, thank you so much for your amazing and thoughtful comments! Your viewpoint is absolutely right about the superficial nature of our global society given the overarching Westernized-capitalist mentality. I truly appreciate your reading the article and seeing my
    message(s) clearly!

  6. As one of my friends once noted at a natural hair forum, “It’s like gentrification, the main stream culture will steal it from you and sell it back to you repackaged like it was theirs the whole time.”

  7. @ Victoria….EXACTLY! You put it very eloquently! Thank you so much for your comment and reading it!

  8. @Ranjay So true lol!@Victoria true again! Nice blog!

  9. Lady J, THANK YOU AGAIN for another EXCELLENT article! Your insight is on point. As noted, some will need to actually read & then maybe re-read the article to gather an understanding of the content. For those who actually “GET IT”– KUDOS to you! I so look forward to your future posts Lady J. GREAT JOB!

  10. @ B.J. Thank you so much for your amazing and thoughtful comments! That means so much to me and I truly thank you and appreciate your support!

  11. People keep saying that people are not reading this Lady J’s postings correctly…ahh…maybe it’s her! Finds some real and new topics and stop all the self hate and race baiting! How about that.

    Resoect is Earned.

  12. Big bootys, tanning and lip injections….weaves/perms, skin bleaching,…nose jobs, colored contacts, nails, fake titties, spanx, etc…What’s the difference? Don’t matter if u black, white, or beige. We already know most women wasn’t “born this way!”

  13. Black women are so frequently insulted in comparison to other ethnicities, that it is pathetic! We need to embrace our beauty, ignore stupidity, love ourselves and each other, stay away from chemicals that damage our natural hair and impede its growth, and let the mainstream know that when it comes to asses, they can just kiss ours and be gone! We have better things to do and concern ourselves with. Come again when you are doing the important work that uplifts, inspires, renews and empowers.

  14. Clearly Kimiyo and Youagain didn’t thoroughly read this article! I’m completely confused at both of their responses:

    1) Kimiyo is saying for Lady J to create work that inspires and uplifts black women because we are devoid of that: was this piece NOT talking about that?! The fact that Lady J is calling out the negative history of how black women’s NATURAL bodies were once considered to be ugly by WHITES, but has now SOMEHOW over the years been stolen and marketed by WHITE WOMEN IS A CALL FOR ACTION! Furthermore, how the hell do you see that she’s comparing Black women to White women?! Read the article again and then read it AGAIN! It’s amazing how most of you put comments on here, but have NO CLUE AT ALL what the key messages are in the damn article!

    2) Youagain, first, make sure you spell your words correctly before trying to insult someone’s work. Secondly, what does your comment even mean? NOTHING! I suppose your comment about “finds some new material” (which is funny in itself) means that for your little feeble mind, I suppose you’d rather read about something a little more trite and on your level like “the latest celebrity hookup/gossip” or an article on relationship drama or how to have a great sexscapade, right?! You know, something a little more on your level. All yall honestly have nothing better to do than tear down someone who actually KNOWS what their talking about! HOLLA AT ME….

  15. @ RealTalk: KUDOS!!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself! THANK YOU for your REAL TALK !!

  16. I love this article! It was very informative. And it is amazing how they (white, european, and others) have tried to degrade us but still want to look like us. There are so many sistas that hate the way they look because they want to be thinner, light skinned and change other areas of their bodies.

    I say embrace who you are and be thankful that GOD put you into that beautiful skin and body!!!

  17. This comment is for Real Talk. You admitted you are confused. I am not. I was not condemning Lady J at all; didn’t even mention her name. YOU should re-read what was stated. I agree with Miss MJJ Much. AND as I said, if you don’t like it, KMA.

  18. I never heard of Sarah Baartman and reading this really opened my eyes to some things. I swear, looking at the youtube videos of the film Black Venus really almost had me in tears.

  19. @ missmjjmuch: Great points!!!

    @ Mica:It’s really great that you learned something new from this article despite the sadness. We should all strive to learn new things on a regular basis. Keep it up!

    @ Kimoyo: By the time you’ve reached adulthood, you should have learned how to adequately express yourself verbally & literally without being disrespectful, insulting & inviting someone to kiss your unmentionables. That is a tactic that should be reserved for children who have not yet fully learned how to express themselves or for someone who is not mentally or intellectually capable of grasping the skill.

    When one resorts to such banal tactics, oftentimes, what could have been an engaging & useful exchange of information, whether one agrees with the other or not, turns instead into a dead end as one or all turn off to any probability of transference of information.

    The bottom line is this: Share your thoughts, opinions, observations or whatever you have to offer but do it in such a way that is RESPECTFUL!

  20. @Kimoyo we do embrace our beauty as black women its the rest of the world including our black men who constantly tell us we are not good enough.

  21. @Kimiyo. I agree.

    Black women need to be VERY proud of what god gave them. Who gives a damn about what mainstream media loves to throw in our face. And to hell with the black men who are lost, stupid and self haten basterds. F*k them. (((exuse the profanity))). Black men today are DBRs very bad and the world laughs at them. They enjoy seeing black folks haten each other.

  22. And I thought Nikki Minaj a** was real. I saw her on I think VH1 special or I think Etv special and they showed her from back in the day. And she had a big butt.
    ((shrug)))

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