How is One Supposed to Believe Black is Beautiful?

Posted by Sidney, 08 Mar

MAC cosmetics posted a picture of a Black model that received so much backlash on Instagram last week because of her full lips. She was compared to a fish and to rapper Jay Z. Some Instagram users threatened to unfollow MAC on their social media platform for this. Some comments, were just too racist (Read Instagram post at the end of the article).

But have the likes of Kylie Jenner and Angelina Jolie ever experienced such wrath for their large lips? NO!! If anything, their pouty lips are hailed and sexualized. White women go to lengths to achieve this pouty look by enhancing their lips with botox just to have the full-lipped look of most Black women.

It’s like butts. On a black woman, we call it FAT and UGLY. On Amber Rose and the Kardashian women: HOT and SEXY.

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So what does this say? Beauty is not about how skinny and tight you’re a** is; or how curvaceous you are; or how pouty your lips are, or how busty you are. All the above scenario screams is: “BEAUTY aint BLACK!”

In her article: “I Don’t Believe I’m Black and Beautiful,” on the HuffPost, Zeba Blay states this sad but true fact: “The things that make us black women, our big lips or big butts or kinky hair, are singled out as the main factors that we must change about ourselves in order to be more attractive, in order to be more acceptable”.

And as Black women try so hard to lighten their skins, lose weight and straighten their hair, White women are busy trying to acquire this full lipped, full figured, tanned look. And this look on white women is considered by whomever drafted the standards of beauty code – what the mainstream goes by - beautiful… A look most black women spend their lives from teenage hood trying to run away from.

Blay advocates for the building of self esteem as opposed to focusing on the black features that the mainstream doesn't consider as a mark of beauty; and by the look of things, light skin is the mark of beauty. She writes:

"I want to be uninterested in beauty; I want to be uninterested in the idea that self-esteem only has to do with the way one looks. But in a society where black beauty is so invisible, so little celebrated, it's impossible not to be preoccupied with it. That's the crux. Beauty isn't and shouldn't be the scale by which we measure our self-worth and validation. But for black women, the constant bombardment of negative messaging sometimes makes it so hard to separate those things from one another.

For me, the struggle of black beauty is not accepting that it exists in this world. I see black beauty everywhere -- I see it in my family and friends; I see the complexity and the range of black beauty in women I don't know but admire, women like First Lady Michelle Obama, or the French-Senegalese actress Aissa Maiga, or the singer SZA, or the model and activist Bethann Hardison. The struggle is very personal. I can see our collective beauty, I can celebrate it in others, but I can't celebrate it in myself.

It feels contradictory and hypocritical, to celebrate the beauty of black women but be perpetually unable to recognize my own. To be black and to be beautiful and to recognize, appreciate, and accept your own beauty is in itself a kind of revolutionary act. I believe that. That's why I feel defeated -- thinking I'm not beautiful, that I'm in fact ugly, feels like I'm giving in to all the lies that have been subliminally broadcast to me and every young black woman out there. I haven't quite figured out how to change the narrative, but maybe at least being aware of it, at least wanting to change, is a kind of tiny victory."

Do you share similar thoughts?

13 responses to "How is One Supposed to Believe Black is Beautiful? "

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  1.   jimbrowski says:
    Posted: 19 Jun

    AFRICAN women are the most beautiful women in the universe and yes I state this having dated interracially; they (we) should not concern themselves (ourselves) with what/how/why Non-African people think of them (us).

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  2.   ladybarb says:
    Posted: 13 Jun

    To believe that one is not beautiful no matter what your race is to believe in the hype that this present media is promoting. We are all beautiful in the eyes of the universe. Self love is important. One has to love himself or herself before others can love them. All women want to constantly improve their appearance, whether it be hair, complexion, weight, etc. I do not think that has a bearing on race. Ones environment can all play in what an individual believes. Believe it or not, it's not only what society says is beautiful (and that has changed considerably), but Black people and family members can influence what one believes about herself. Women of color are beautiful and the only thing that matters in the end is how you feel about yourself. There are enough role models of women of color that believe in their own beauty to be a great influence for all women of color (Rhinna, Beyonce, Iman, Zoe Calandra,... to name a very few) MAC posted a picture of a woman of color as depicting beauty and why is everyone upset that SOME people disagree? Who cares??? I don't and what someone else says about what beauty is, does not affect me and what I believe about beauty or my own beauty.

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  3.   MsKya says:
    Posted: 09 Jun

    I haven't felt that way since I was a child. As an adult, I have become more then comfortable with what I consider my beauty to be, and no one will ever take this confidence away from me again. I and only I determine how I feel about my beauty.

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  4.   rogue_male says:
    Posted: 26 May

    Let's face it, it's just the crappy capitalist media saying all those negative things because they are trying to sell their crappy products like skin whiteners et al; and are attempting to condition the way people think about themselves, to further their airwave dominance and perpetuate their 'false consciousnesses' in the service of conservatism, neo libs and the status quo! Beauty is entirely relative (in the eye of the beholder) guys, so big lips, bosoms, pitch black skin and just about anything else of color, has its equivalent list of admirers out there... erm, like me for instance! :-)

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  5.   Alilish says:
    Posted: 24 May

    I totally get this feeingl. How can someone who only difference is their skin tone be consider beautiful, but your ugly. It's a horrible feeling that you will never be good enough no matter how hard you work. Not sure it will ever change, but I try to not listen to anyone telling me I'm not good enough, and slay at being the best ME I can be because no one is a better ME then Me!

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  6.   richgurl2 says:
    Posted: 13 Apr

    Inspite of what we have been told about (black race) we are beautiful from the inside out. God didnt make a mistake when he created us. Ask Moses!!! We all are uniquely made.

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  7.   rogue_male says:
    Posted: 27 Mar

    Just don't watch TV, it's become such dumbed down rubbish and all those pesky media owners have all kinds of wacky far right agenda's these days! Stay beautiful ladies everywhere and don't take in that media horse manure! Surround yourselves with good ppl that appreciate your beauty, make your lives feel better and lose those ones with those negative stereotypes about racial & color vibes! :-)

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  8.   Mosiah7 says:
    Posted: 25 Mar

    How is one supposed to believe black is beautiful when we as black people don't love each other? That's a better question.

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  9.   ravenjdb says:
    Posted: 20 Mar

    If you don't believe your Blackness is Beautiful, how will any one believe. I heard this comment before and believe it whole heartily, it states......."One man's eye for beauty is another man's eye sore." People like what they like. My blue/black skin, hips and butts isn't to everyone taste. But my God said I am fearfully and wonderfully made. So, I will work it and love myself. Hater gonna hate. Love flows like a river running wild. Peace and Love.

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  10. Posted: 20 Mar

    Black is beautiful. I have always believed that I was beautiful.

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  11.   EllaRoxanna says:
    Posted: 16 Mar

    I live in Eastern Long Island, where there is lots of interracial dating. I am constantly told by men of all races that I am attractive. Black men on interracial dating sites instant message me even the men whose profiles state that they only date non-Black women.

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  12. Posted: 11 Mar

    It's so sad that the media is having such an effect. I have always thought Black women are the most beautiful women.

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  13.   MzMecka1969 says:
    Posted: 10 Mar

    Yes, I live on Long Island where I am very invisible. I moved from Brooklyn. What a horrible mistake I have made and my esteem has been affected. My children love Long Island so as soon as my son graduates high school I am out of there. Two more years...I have never lived in a place that is so beautiful but unfriendly especially the men! I see why my homegirls and family have left, you sure start doubting yourself but then I go into the NYC and it's a whole better world!!

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